Monday, September 15, 2014

September 8, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

Bishop Frandsen called us last night while we were out trying to see some people.  We had kind of exhausted all of our backups and were out seeing some people we haven't seen in a while.  "Hello, this is Elder Russell" I say.  "Elder Russell, this is Bishop."  "I Bishop, how are you?"  "How are you?"  Bishop says.  "Good, Bishop, how are you?"  I reply.  "I'm doing okay.  Hey listen.  I was just calling because I got this impression to call you and see how you're doing.  Are you guys doing okay?"  "Um...yeah.  We're doing good...I think so anyway."  I turn to Elder DePew and ask if he's doing good.  He confirms. "Yeah, we're doing fine, Bishop."  "Okay,"  he says "I just--if there's anything you need, if you need to come by, or you need my help with anything, I just want to be there for you."  "Thanks Bishop  I think we're doing okay.  But we appreciate that."  "If there's something with sin that you're involved in--or the missionary rules or something and you need to talk to President, just let me know I want to be there for you."  Now I was thinking it was a little weird.  "Just, when you get those promptings, you can't ignore them."  He says.  "Well...I think we are doing oka--"  "I'm just kidding, I just wanted to call you and let you know I talked to your parents. ...just wanted to harass you."  ...Thanks Bishop.  Thanks.  That is kind of how last night went for me.  Anyway, he thought you all were cool and he enjoyed talking to you.  Probably most of what he was saying wasn't true, but that's okay.  Maybe he said untrue good things.  He's a pretty fun guy.

But the week has indeed been good.  We taught a lot and found another investigators (besides Sharon).  His name is Don.  We have a lesson with him this Friday and we're hopefully going to be able to pass him off to the YSA missionaries since he's 25 and unmarried.  He's really cool though.  He's a recent Christian (he calls himself a new believer).  He was raised in a Christian home but he said it wasn't till about two years ago that he started acting on the things he had heard.  His gospel knowledge isn't massive, but he knows that Jesus Christ is his Savior and we think that's awesome.  He loves to help others and loves his family.  He has a nephew that just is crazy about him, his nephew probably interrupted the lesson six times or so and we told him that the boy could join us (he's two).  It was good.  So we have high hopes for him as well as Sharon.  Things went well.
Marie is doing well but I don't think she's as interested as she was before.  We think that's because we got distracted by the fact she came to church that we forgot to just care about her and talk about her.  Not that we don't care and not that we don't talk about her, but we just taught instead of truly helping her.  So we're working on that as well.  But we think she'll still be awesome, we just need some more time with her.

And that's pretty much the way things have gone recently.  Now that we're teaching a lot we kind of have to refocus how to do the work (because it's a different part of the work).  So we hope we can help our investigators.  We pray for them often and they really are awesome.

So somehow I got roped into singing...again.  This time for a stake talent show.  I got a text from a member in our ward and she said "Just want to let you Elders know that I volunteered Elder Russell to sing with Brother Pedroche at the talent show.  Text him for details."  ...So we decided I'm going to sing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.  because we like it, it's in my range (the arrangement he has) and we think it's appropriate.  It is a prayer after all.  So now we just have to invite all the nonmembers and less active members as we can to the talent show to make it a productive use of time.  Pray we get some people there and that they'll be touched.  We should have at least a few.  But I'm excited.

I was on exchanges with Elder Markham on Wednesday (Elder Markham will be the next Stephen Covey--he knows way to much about the gospel...which I didn't know was possible.)  We talk about interesting things and questions that we have about the gospel.  He typically has an answer, and eight references to back it up.  But we were talking about Alma 60-61.  Often times we like to discuss the characters of the Book of Mormon and what they would be like in real life (in fact, last week, we put actors to the characters in the Book of Mormon).  But we were talking about Moroni.  We were talking about how we think he would be in person.  A lot of the time, we put Moroni on a pedestal (which is understandable, Alma 48:17 tells us if everyone was Moroni, there really wouldn't be a lot of Satan).  But in the Miracle of Forgiveness by President Kimball, President Kimball tells us that no one is infallible; that we all commit sin at one point or another.  We all have weaknesses.  In Ether 12:27 we learn why we have weaknesses and what they do for us, but the point is we all have weak spots.  Sometimes we forget that when it comes to Moroni.

In fact, Elder Markham (and trust me, Elder Markham and I are huge fans of Moroni) was talking to me about Alma 60 (Moroni's letter to Pahoran), and he said "Even Moroni had his flaws.  I mean after all, he was calling down condemnation on Pahoran when he really didn't have the authority to do so."  I sometimes forget that Moroni wasn't the prophet at the time; Helaman was.  Also, Moroni made quite the amount of assumptions in his letter to Pahoran.  I can only imagine how Pahoran must have felt; I just got kicked out of my own city, they tried to kill me, my people are dying from food, I can't help my armies out fighting for our freedom, and now one of my captains thinks I'm a bad guy.  What would your reaction be?  How would you respond to Moroni's rather angry letter to you?  But instead of getting defensive, he simply forgives.  And we learn in the first few verses of Alma 61, just what kind of person Pahoran was.  If there is anyone that has ever lived on this earth that I would like to be judged by in a court of law (besides Jesus Christ), it would be Pahoran.  He was so understanding, so forgiving, and so happy that Moroni was still alive and righteous.  That, to me, is incredible.  I get angry when my companion takes my milk for his cereal in the mornings (not really, but it's to demonstrate a point), Pahoran remained calm when his chief captain accused him falsely of being a traitor.

We don't hear any apology from Moroni in chapter 62.  We just know Moroni was happy to hear that Pahoran wasn't actually a bad guy.  But I don't think it matters.  The lesson taught in those chapters is not of one concerning the war with sin; to me, it's a lesson of forgiveness.  Pahoran never mentions his injuries to Moroni.

In retrospect, the question I would ask myself and all of you is when someone makes an accusation on your character--because Moroni wasn't mistaken on what happened, he was wrong about who Pahoran was--do we have the courage and the meekness to forgive it anyway?  I know I could improve on it.  I also know that if we do develop a character of forgiveness, there will be a peace, that cannot be achieved through any action.  There will be a love that cannot be as consistent and deep with out it.

I know the church is true and that this is the Lord's work.  Don't forget to forgive.  Remember that there are bigger things to worry about.  I love you all and miss you dearly.  I pray for you and hope everything is well back home.  Keep being awesome and don't forget to look Up.

Elder Russell

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