Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family (and anyone else who might end up reading this),

The vacation sounds like a blast.  Amish country, huh?  That's cool.  I wonder if the preconceptions we have about Amish country are as inaccurate as some one the ones people have down here.  Here's my favorite one I've heard about Mormons:  "Is it true you have to consummate you marriages in the Salt Lake Temple?"  Haha, no...but that'd be cool.  Did you ask the girl if she's ever churned her own butter?  How much does a village patriarch's hat weigh?  Is it true that all males born during even numbered years are trained in the martial are of Wow Ouch Bang?  Does every second daughter in the family really have to grow out her pinky toe her entire life?

This week was transfers.  My area for this transfer is...wait for it...drum!  Yeah, I'm staying here in Ontario for at least one more transfer.  At the end of this transfer I will have spent 6mo in my greenie area.  Which doesn't happen very often.  But apparently there's something here I still need to do here (or maybe there's something I still need to learn :P).  But most of the Zone stayed the same.  Really the only IMPORTANT difference is Elder Hernandez is now serving as a Zone Leader in Rancho.  I'm gonna miss him tons.  I know he's only 20 minutes away, but I've loved living with him for the last two transfers.  This past transfer, we didn't miss a day of running.  It was super fun.  We met this guy named Mark down at the track we live next to.  He goes down to the Ontario High track to do speedwork every Tuesday and Friday.  We timed our miles on Tuesday so we never ran with him then, and then most Fridays we did loops.  So we never really ran with him until Friday.  He said he was going to be running on Friday and since it was one of the last days Hernandez and I would for sure be in the same apartment, we did speedwork with him. definitely in better shape than we are.

You should see this guy, he's screaming Mormon.  It's kinda crazy.  So when we ran with him on Friday, we invited him to take the lessons.  He respectfully declined but said he would still like to do speedwork with us on Tuesdays and Fridays.  So I think I'll drag Elder King out of bed to go running with me every day so we can keep seeing him.  Slowly but surely...he will convert.  Only, he'll be tough because he grew up around members.

Another guy Elder King and I have be working with actually just moved *tear*.  We never had a lesson with him, and he doesn't actually want any of the discussions, but we talked to him for like 45 minutes.  His name's Marcello, and he's 17yo.  He's a pretty cool kid (a little arrogant...but I'm not really one to talk).  He just barely moved to Chino Hills (which is totally not in our area, and if we were teaching him, we'd totally be poaching).  But even though he's not interested, we invited him to come out to Zone Activities on P-Day.  He seemed down for the idea (because hey, who doesn't wanna hang out with 26 missionaries?).  He's a super great kid and will probably destroy me at ultimate ball.

Have you ever gone less-active tracting?  I did it with Elder Buttars on Wednesday last week.  You just go through the ward list and visit everyone who you know doesn't come to church.  You get to know them, share a thought, ask to go through the lessons with them...and then leave.  It's...actually pretty fun.  I think most active members of the church get this notion that less-active members of the church want nothing to do with the church, and so they get scared of going to go see them.  Then, every once in a while you get some bold member who goes over to share a message...and it works.  Then everybody's like "What...what...what happened?"  And the active member's like "Well...we talked about the game last Saturday."  And boom, just like that:  Soul=Saved.  It works.  You should give it a try.  Just go over, invite them to dinner, a movie, say hi, tell them about something cool, ask them to do something for you (they like that one).  If the gospel is really a full part of your life, principles will just come out of your mouth.  As the stake president down here says "Do the Mormon talk."  It's pretty cool.

So I learned something pretty recently that I think is kind of cool.  I have found you get really good at things you consistently do.  Aristotle said "We are what we consistently do; excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a lifestyle," right?  Which I think is an awesome principle.  Someone who works hard, is going to get really good at consistently working hard, right?  Or someone who complains a lot, finds a lot to complain about.  I learned about this principle a few different places last transfer.  One was in Zone Conference.  We discussed a talk by Elder Bednar called "Converted Unto the Lord" which is a pretty rad talk.  The talk was really about the difference between testimony and conversion.  But the thing I really took away from it was that conversion is not an act, it's a character.  So like, someone who comes to church, reads the Book of Mormon, and is baptized could be a convert, but at the same time they could not be.  It's this infinite difference between principles and processes.  It's hard to really find a way to describe it.  But testimony is a point of departure and conversion is really the journey.  Consecration is the end.  But even then, consecration can't really be the end because progression is eternal.  So a true convert is really never fully converted. There's really no such thing as arriving, right?

Now what does this have to do with doing something consistently?  As President McKay would say, "Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap a character.  Sow a character, reap a destiny."  So it's pretty important to watch the little things we do, right?  Bro Flack (my YM President in Provo) told me "If I could really give you any advice that I truly think would help you on your mission, it would be don't complain."  I thought that was interesting, but I'm starting to understand what he was meaning.  The first time you complain, it might be sarcastic and maybe even humorous.  But after a while, you start to become pretty sarcastic, and eventually it looses it's humor.  Then, over time, you're not just complaining, you're a complainer.  So don't complain.  And super hard to do, right?  But I think that's super important to understand and it's not just a cliche.  It's a true principle.  A convert is always trying to develop Christlike attributes and become more like the Savior (which, by the way, the baptismal covenants were designed to do.  I know right? O.o)

Speaking of Christlike attributes.  I'm still waiting to hear back on how the PMG Studying is going.  How was Chapter 6?  What did you learn?  What attributes did you pick and how did you apply them?  your next assignment is to read the first lesson in PMG and pick out the principles.  Not the doctrine, the principles.  The difference is, the doctrine are the things you should know (and probably do know), principles are the things you're supposed to live.  Please don't neglect PMG, Scripture Study, or Prayer.  This will bless your life more than you know.  Please please study PMG and please follow up with me.  I would love more than anything to hear about that.

Thank you all for everything you do.  I love you all and pray for you.

Elder Russell

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