Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014 (Jantzen's 19th birthday!)

Mom, Dad, and Family,

Thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes.  Y'all are the bomb and I love you loads.  Loads of...Brother Bray's famous ribs....yeah!  Totally though, thanks a bunch.  Birthdays in the mission are different than back home.  Everyone celebrated by making it P-Day.  Actually, it was P-Day anyway.  But seriously, thanks for the love and support.  Things are going well.  It's been a good day.  We had service at 10am this morning (which is right when studies end) so we woke up a half hour early so we could get to service on time.  It was a lot of fun!  Studies were good too, so that's a plus.

This week was a lot of fun!  It was Richard's and Paula's birthday this week, so Friday was hectic running around and celebrating it with them.  We made Richard a cake and put all 55 candles on there.  There wasn't very much candle left by the time we finished singing to him.  But he had a good birthday.  So did Paula.  We gave her a card that had a picture of this cartoon guy who looked beat up and it said "This is Gutnis.  He walked 15,000 miles to wish you a happy birthday.  Gutnis suffered from heat exhaustion, fatigue, thirst, hunger, sprained ankles and a scorpion sting; so please, have a happy birthday...for Gutnis' sake."

We had Zone Meeting this week and that was a lot of fun.  The Sister Missionary in our ward and Elder Mitchell and myself did a musical number.  That was fun.  But the Zone Leaders gave this awesome awesome training on Charity.  Super super good.  There is, without a doubt in my mind, nothing better than the Gospel.  Good times.

I also went on exchanges with another missionary.  We had a lot of fun in his area.  We taught a couple of less-active members and both are doing super good.  We had a lot of fun and it was a really good, spiritual experience.  The missionary is like 21 months out and goes home in March, so he knows what he's doing.

Christmas makes everything better.

We totally had dinner at the Bray's last Monday and they made Chinese food.  Mmm...they know what they're doing.  Good stuff.  They're an awesome family.  We always have a blast when we go over and the Spirit just kinda lives in there home.  Roger's doing well and he came to church on Sunday, even though he was super tired.

We also met with the Chacon family and taught them using the Family Proclamation.  They're so cool!  I love them loads.  Keep them in your prayers, they're really close to coming to church and receiving the Gospel more in their lives.  Especially pray that their hearts will be open and softened to receive revelation and answers to their prayers.

Speaking of prayer.  I was reviewing the things I know and learning more about prayer.  Cool stuff.  I have found that as we make efforts to occasionally pray on our knees and vocally, that we can focus and be guided by the Spirit easier.

Thanks for all you do.  I love and miss you all.  I appreciate your prayers and the love you show me.  Don't forget to rely on the Spirit to know what to pray for.  Don't forget to pray often.  Don't forget to study the scriptures.  Don't forget to share the Gospel.  And don't forget to look Up!

Elder Russell

Dec. 8, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

Thanks for all you do on behalf of the Lord and His servants.  As one of His missionaries, I know He appreciates everything you do.  Thanks so much for all you do for me.  I feel the prayers and help you send my way, both knowingly and unknowingly.  It means a lot and helps hasten the work.

This week was pretty crazy.  I went to my first non-denominational service in the living room of someone's home.  It was on a Thursday in the evening and he first referred to it as a "Bible study," so I didn't feel too bad about going.  Plus, there were people there and we wanted to see if there would be any finding opportunities.  The Church's name (well, it's not really a church.  Church is daunting and scares people, it also requires authority--which not a lot of people claim to have--and inspiration, so instead they call themselves a fellowship) is Fishhook Fellowship.  It's catchy--get it?--huh?  Anyway, we went over the Epistle of Jude, which I thought was completely ironic since it's totally and completely about the apostasy.  But it was cool to see another take on it.  He opened it up for discussion for the first 15minutes or so and then preached his own ideas into the scripture.  It was also interesting to see how everyone had a different translation of Bible.  Even those who had the same translation had different words in each Bible.  So I had a good time listening to different interpretations.

But truly and honestly, it was probably one of the most testimony building experiences for me.  The Spirit was there to help me discern from truth and error.  It was actually a lot of fun.  My favorite line of Pastor Brad's was when we were talking about sinning (born again Christians think you can sin as much as you want, so long as you confess Jesus as Christ and don't cause others to sin), he said "You do have liberty to do that [sin] through Christ's grace.  But don't cause a brother to stumble."  He made reference to Elijah, I believe, when Elijah was asked if someone were lawfully allowed to eat the sacrificial lamb.  Anyway, I raised my hand and asked "So where do you draw the line?  At what point is sinning a stumbling block for others."  He simply said "I don't judge."  He then said "If you ask me if you can get drunk, I can show you in the Bible where it says not to get drunk.  If you want to kill, I can show you where it says not to kill.  But in the gray areas, I don't judge."  So anyway, without going to much into doctrine, we don't believe it works like that.  We believe that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.  So we're not supposed to sin.

It was a really interesting experience.  I had a good time.  There were a few other things similar that happened, where others said it was okay to sin.  I'm so thankful for the Spirit, so I don't have to make the decision to stay clean on my own.  Also for its sanctifying and cleansing power that it brings when I repent of sins I have committed.

It rained a lot on Wednesday.  We were rather drenched.  But we had a good time.  We biked the first half of the day.  That was dumb, we got really wet and cold.  And then we helped a less-active member mount his TV on the wall.  Good times.

All the missionaries in Ontario and Upland sang at the Community Nativity Festival that our stake puts on every year.  It was really cool, we sang some cool arrangements.  And we had a great time.

Coolest thing happened while we were helping out with the missionary room there, we met this guy who was introduced to the church just a few months ago and wants to take the lessons.  The person who introduced him to the church met him at a doctor appointment, shared some stuff and then asked him if he wanted to go to lunch with him the next week.  He did and they talked more.  We got this guy's information and we're sending missionaries to his house today.  It was sweet.

Anyway, I'm about out of time.  Thanks so much for all you do!  I love you all.  Don't forget why we have Christmas.  Don't forget to think about what you can give back this year.  And don't forget to look Up!

Elder Russell
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Dec. 1, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

Sounds like Thanksgiving was great for y'all.  It was for me too.  I went to a family in our ward.  One of our investigators was supposed to come with us, but he ended up going to his daughter's instead.  Understandable.  If you didn't get a chance, I would strongly recommend watching the video In The Spirit of Thanksgiving on .  It's a good one.  And then make a list of things you're thankful for--or better yet, just say a prayer and give the list to God.  He likes that kind of stuff apparently.  But yeah, this week was good.

Key indicators are the way missionaries report their doings to the Mission President (fun fact, it's also what the church builds most missionary statistics off of).  There are 10 of them.  So every week we send in our numbers through the Zone Leaders on how many lessons we taught, how many investigators we found ect...  So anyway, with this season being the season it is, the church has rolled out a new campaign called He Is The Gift.  You'll never guess; it's about Christmas.  As part of the campaign, they've added on to and created a new website called .  Check it out, it's the bomb.  Elder Mitchell and I (we're supposed to study the church websites) spent a goodly amount of time on that site.  It's pretty amazing.  Also there is a new pass along card you can get from your missionaries.  Pass a lot of them out.  This is kind of a really big deal.  Also, this Sunday, visit; it's the only advertiser on that website on the 7th.  Pretty intense.  I like it a lot.  So anyway, I'm super pumped.  Go crazy with it.  OH!  And if you share the link on ect. and put #heisthegift, it will link you to the church's social media site and then all your friends can see it.  So share it a lot.  So now we report on how many investigators we find through

Also, Elder Mitchell and I made a key indicator up.  It's really cool, we're collecting it from the district every Sunday night before we send the numbers to the Zone Leaders.  It's the number of pies received, and the number of pies eaten.  Pretty awesome.

So I just finished the Book of Mormon again and I think it's a pretty good book.  Being a missionary, I notice a lot more things pertaining missionary work and gospel ministry.  Most recently, Moroni 8 and Alma 42 have stuck out to me.  Both are words from fathers to their sons.  The last few verses of Alma 42 are super awesome to read as a missionary.  Because missionaries mess up a lot.  And it's cool to have repentance to overcome that obstacle.  So when you read Alma 42, the entire chapter is spent on justice and mercy and sin and punishment and kinda makes the sinner feel super low.  By verse 25, I feel pretty bummed out for sinning.  Rather remorseful.  But the last few verses are so hopeful.  Alma doesn't actually exact a punishment, declare Corianton's doom or give him a penalty for his sins.  Rather, he simply tells him something very similar to what Christ said to the woman taken in adultery.  When the woman was found guilty, Jesus didn't give her forgiveness per say, but he also didn't sentence her to any sort of disfellowshipment in the church.  Instead, he directs her to "Go, and sin no more."  Alma also says to Corianton " son, go thy way..."  The very word "go" I think is very freeing.  It means that there isn't anything set in stone yet in terms of his salvation.  The is time to repent.  There is still time to prepare to meet God (Alma 34:32).

The other chapter you're probably thinking "That's about baptizing infants."  Well you're right.  But verses two and three are so comforting.  How cool is it to hear those words from a prophet.  Moroni's doing the missionary thing and his father writes him and only tells him how proud of Moroni he is.  Pretty cool stuff.  So there's always hope, if you're where Corianton was as, you can always make it to where Moroni was.  There is always hope for repentance and forgiveness.  Anyway, just some thoughts I had on that.

I gotta get going.  But I love you all to death.  Haha, that's a joke.  I love you all to life! (Don't die.)  Take care.  Thank you for your love and support.  Thank you for your prayers.  I can feel them every day.  Don't forget to read your scriptures.  Don't forget to check out He Is The Gift!  Don't forget that God forgives.  And don't forget to look Up!

Elder Russell

November 24, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family,

There will be no turkey bowls for me this Thursday.  It was really funny in Elders quorum because they discussed the turkey bowl and set it up before the lesson.  They then invited the missionaries.  We told them that our Mission President was not a fan and would prefer we wouldn't.  The room got fairly loud with excuses, which I found rather humorous because President Hobbs wasn't even near the room. :P  But anyway, I will not be playing football on Thursday so Dad and Taylor must.  Or else.

Thanks for all your emails and love and support.  I feel it out here on the mission.  It means a lot to be able to email people and have them email back.  Thank you.

Starting this week, the church just released a new initiative that I am SO stoked for called "He Is The Gift"  is starts Friday the day after Thanksgiving and goes all the way through January 1st.  If you remember back in Easter they released the video "Because of Him" it's very similar.  But it's bigger and awesomer.

This past week was awesome and Elder Mitchell and I had a lot of fun.  We had a lesson with the Chacons and they were super open about their concerns.  Missionaries love that kind of stuff because then we have something to work.  But they committed to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  The are an awesome family.  We love them a lot.

The Gomez and Roger are not doing so good on progressing though.  Please pray for them.  They're awesome and we love them a ton, but please pray for them.

I was reading in Mormon today and Mormon 9 is such a great chapter on the Plan of Salvation.  It's cool to have so many good chapters on the Plan of Salvation in the Book of Mormon but I had never really noticed Mormon 9.  Great chapter.  It makes total sense of the Three Kingdom.

Anyway, I gots to get goin'.  Thanks so much for all you do.  Don't forget to read your scriptures.  Don't forget to say your prayers.  And don't forget to look Up!

Elder Russell