Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

I didn't realize that Saho was leaving so soon.  That's crazy.  I guess she has been there longer than I thought.  A month or so right?  Wow, that's nuts.  This transfer has flown by so fast it is ridiculous.  I got Robyn's email; sounds like she had a lot of fun with Saho.  Keep in touch with her.  This week was transfers.  Which is crazy because I feel like last transfer just started.  But nonetheless, I got here six weeks ago and it has been awesome.  Elder Depew and I are staying in the Upland 5th ward for another transfer together.  Poor guy, it's his fifth transfer here.  But he's got a really positive attitude towards it.  He's a great guy and he loves being a missionary.  The work is going great too!  He hasn't had the success in this area that he's deserved and I think that's why he's still here.  Because we have a lot of things going well this transfer and things are looking up.

A couple of weeks ago we tracted into this lady named Marie.  Marie is a Catholic and didn't seem very interested but she was nice to us (we keep track of those people....we know a lot of people).  Well when the conference with Elder Nelson came a little closer we decided to invite her because we kind of just wanted to invite everyone and she fell under that category.  So we went over to her house and invited her.  She said maybe and we talked for a little bit and because not a lot of people are familiar with the idea of a modern prophet, we taught her a little bit about prophets and then said a prayer and left.  Well we came by again the next Friday (last Friday) just to see if she was still okay to go.  But we decided we were going to stay a little longer and see if she was interesting in learning more about our church.  We knock on her door and we start talking and she says "You know, you guys come over and are so nice and I never invite you in.  Come on in and we'll sit down and talk."  Well...that made everything easy.  So she invited us in and showed us around her house and her family and her dogs (she has like 37 of them), and then we sat down and started teaching the first lesson.  Well, sometimes it's really hard to keep the focus in the first lesson and so it's hard to feel the Spirit in the first visit.  Even though there were still distractions, the Spirit was for sure there.  She started crying during the account of the first vision and we again invited her to see the Apostle.  She definitely said yes and said the closing prayer of the lesson.  She said in the prayer "God, I know I was brought up catholic.  And I know I've been catholic for a long time--but it's okay to change religions, right?  I mean, why not?  I believe there is a prophet again, and Lord, please help me know what you would have me do."  It was pretty cool.  She was there at church and we have two lessons set up with her this week to follow up and we plan on committing her to baptism.  Pray for her this week.  Pray that she'll read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  Pray that she'll understand what we're teaching and desire to be baptized.  Pray for her to receive a testimony.  She is great.

Hugo and Grace are still doing well.  We weren't able to meet with them last week but we plan to with Bro Pedroche this week.  Hopefully even teach them in the Pedroche home.  That would be awesome.  Hugo is the leader of the family and if he doesn't go to church probably no one will.  Pray for them.  He has a hard time prioritizing and we're trying to help them both see the importance of going to church.  Pray that he'll be helped to know that he needs to come to church for his family.  We're going to try and commit them to baptism this week.  Pray that the lesson will go well and that they'll understand.  Pray that Elder Depew and I will know what to say to help them.  We're excited for this week.

We also had a lesson with a guy named Richard.  He used to be the Sisters' investigator (the other missionaries in the ward), but because he's a male and they have a hard time meeting with him, they gave him to us.  He lives rather far from us and we biked to his house on Tuesday.  He tried to tell us not to come back while we were  on his porch.  We gave him CDs of scripture to listen to, but he hadn't listened to them.  Haha, he said "I haven't had the chance to listen to the CDs, and my schedule wont permit me to go to church.  I don't want to waste your guys' time, you know.  I just think it would probably be better if you guys didn't come back."  My thought process was immediately "I just biked across Upland, into Alta Loma, in 95 degrees, for 30 minutes.  There's no way we're getting dropped right now."  I don't know what happened, but we ended up having a lesson with him and teaching him about prayer and church attendance.  So we'll see what happens.

Thanks so much for the update about home.  Yeah, Bro Robbins sang in a choir for Elder Nelson.  It was really good and I enjoyed it.  His technique is fabulous and the choir was great.  I love that family.  They're all super good people and awesome missionaries.  The conference was great.  I got a side hug from Elder Nelson.  I haven't showered since.  But who would?  Marie met Elder Nelson too.  Haha, he reached out his hand to shake hers and she just hugged him.  I don't know who told her that Mormons just hug each other, but I think she hugged two General Authorities and 30 other people that day.  It was awesome!  She connected with some members really really well.

So I was reading in Alma this week and I thought about the change in government.  There were some crazy things that went on in the end of the book of Mosiah.  It was bazaar.  First, Alma, gets converted, and then, in the next few years, his dad dies, his friends' dad dies and he becomes high priest and chief judge.  Talk about change and repentance.  But then I think about what happens next.  In the next five chapters (about 7 years) he gets the first Anti-Christ, fights a few battle, members of the church fall into apostasy, and thousands of his people die.  I think what a burden that must have been for him.  Just about ten years earlier, he was converted and then everything falls apart.  I imagine the kind of faith it must have taken to hang in there and not forsake his testimony.

I think likewise with us, when we make some good decisions, adversity will probably come.  Satan is going to try his worst to dissuade us from doing the right thing.  He might send some people that persecute our faith.  He might fight against us.  He might kill our brethren, or worse yet (as was also the case with Alma) have our friends leave the faith.  But I think if we can just remember that God will help us pull through, then we'll be alright.  And He always does.  He did with Alma, and he will with you.

I love you all and pray for you.  Thank you so much for your support.  Tell Corynne and Bryce I love them and hope they recover fast.  I miss you all and hope this week goes well for you.  Continue to read your scriptures, pray, go to church and keep the commandments--and don't forget to look up!

Elder Russell

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