Monday, August 3, 2015

" their fruits ye shall know them."

Hello family!!

well, this week I have to do a questionnaire and also do a monthly report and we got to the internet a tad late so I am going to be a little short! Sorry!!!! But I mean... I'll be seeing you all before too long so you can ask me all the questions in the world when I am back home... haha

What did you learn this week?
This week I learned a bit more about persistence when prompted by the Spirit. Sometimes I can be a little stubborn when we already have plans set and we are already running late, but this week we had several SPECTACULAR contacts because I took the initiative to step aside and chat with people. Also persistence in the same thing. We contacted a man about 2 weeks ago that just never has free time, but we have just kept passing by and saying hi and asking when we can visit. We still haven't gotten to enter his house and teach something but his family already seems to be very warmed up to us! The magic of planting seeds in the hearts of these people.

Speaking of one of those contacts, we found an awesome guy who had LOTS of questions about the church. He had a school teacher who taught him that the Mormon church was a CIA program to send spies (us Missionaries) througout the world. Never had I heard that before!! But we explained what the church is all about and we took care of that rumor.
...But walking away from that contact the first thing I said to my companion was "We gotta relocate. They've caught on to us." And we started talking about how a helicopter was going to come out of nowhere and take us away and we would leave that young man sitting there in shock as we flew away. hahah we found it to be a fun thing to imagine.

What have you liked best about working with Elder Mallo?
Lots of things!!
He keeps me working hard in talking to everyone and to never forget to street contact.
He keeps me from making excuses and working hard. Sometimes there are things that I don't like doing but he keeps me in line with some of that stuff.
He loves the Zone and holds high expectations for them, he always wants them to fulfill high goals, and he influences them well.
He helps me do a more effective exercise in the morning, He's got me lifting more weight, running, eating more protein (I'm no buff yet... but I'll get there someday. haha)
and so on! We fill each other's faults real well and make a good team. So it has been real fun and a good learning experience!

What are you are most looking forward to eating when you return?
During my whole mission when asked that question I always replied that I would most enjoy a Pork Burrito from Cafe Rio. That always sounds good to me.

What do you feel is the greatest change that has occurred in the Collin who left two years ago and the Collin who is returning next week? (I know! That's a big question! :)
wow... yep, BIG question. hmmm....

I would say honestly the degree of discipleship I have committed myself to. And I'm much more mature now, I feel like I have developed a much stronger self control. In Luke 2:52, it teaches how Jesus grew:
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
I'm not a perfect man or anything close to Jesus, but I have felt the same way during these past 2 years. I don't know what others will see out of me, maybe I am totally wrong...

but I feel like my wisdom has grown: I now understand the scriptures, I truly know more in depth than before about the Plan of Salvation. Also in how to work with people, teaching skills, etc.

In stature, I think I am not as skinny as before, maybe not by much... haha

in favor with God: I have grown to more fully understand and accept His Plan, as well as the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I better know what He expects of me and how I can receive and follow the promptings of the spirit as well as improve my Christlike attributes.

and in favor with man: I know how to love my neighbor a lot more than I did before, I feel like I am more able to submit myself to the ideas or desires of another even though I may not be in full agreement, and I know how to work better with others and help others and show my love to others.

So to sum it all up, I feel that the greatest change has been that I am now following the steps that the Savior took and would like me to take. I feel as though he has been able to form and tune me to be a better instrument in His hands. But, "by their fruits, ye shall know them." One of the things I have most reflected upon is how I will be able to affect the lives of those around me when I get home. My hope is that I may become a light to help all of you in some better way and bring to pass much good as a dedicated servant of God, with or without a black nametag.

Well, I don't know if I will be able to write next Monday or not... We'll see!

I love you all so much!! Have a great week and I'll see you on the other side!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church. I know it and I testify as a personal representative of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is His church. He has restored it in these latter days through the prophet Joseph Smith. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet who leads the church today. The Book of Mormon is true and is the evidence of this message I share. It is also the strongest manner of coming to know Jesus Christ and of his Atonement. I know that through the Atonement of Christ ALL MEN shall return to the presence of the Father and that all men may be saved from sin if they apply the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. I know that God lives, He is our Father. He loves us and has prepared this plan so we may return to live with Him. I testify that these things are true. I know they are true because the Holy Ghost has indicated to me that they are true. I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Russell

Monday, July 27, 2015

Catacaos, Chili's and Being a Missionary!

 More stylin' ties :)

Hello family!!!                                                              

to quickly answer some questions:

Do you get many dinner appointments from members?
No, dinner is not a big thing here, so just every now and then when we do a FHE or something, but more often we get lunch appointments.

Do the wards have a mission prep program to prepare kids that are getting ready for missions?
They did have one going on before, but I honestly am not sure if it is still going on or not, the teacher moved away.

Do you ever attend those classes?
We haven't actually. But the priests help us in visits a lot.

Do you eat much fish and if so what kind?
in my current area not too much, more chicken. and I honestly don’t know what kind it is... especially in English... haha

Is there anything green where you are at or is it as dry as the last places you have been?
It is rather dry, but there are several grassy parks where I am currently at, and that is nice.

Do you have to think about what you are saying in Spanish anymore or is it just like speaking English to you now?
Not too much, every now and then I switch back to English but I get along just fine now with Spanish. It will be a shock to dive back into full English, honestly.

Were you able to meet up with J? How is he doing?
Yes!! He is great, we just saw him for a solid 2 minutes. We had a visit set up but he had to cancel on us because he traveled away again. Now he is in Santo Domingo working, but I think he gets back today. So we are going to try again, but he is excited to get back to talk with us!

And how about E?
Really good! We are teaching his mom now too and she is progressing as well, slowly but surely. E is preparing for the 22nd for his baptism and he is accepting really well the commandments we are teaching him.

Do you have any other new investigators that you are working with?
We got T who has pretty much already become family with the ward. He is only 15 but really a big kid and mature, we are trying to help his family but they don't come to church. But T already has like a month attending. We are still working on them!

We have a new family, the H family, who the father is a less active and the wife and kids are not members. He wants to return to church and the whole family are just starting to receive the lessons!

There is also a RM who just barely got back this week and he introduced us to pretty much ALL of his non member family and we are starting to teach several of them so that is a fun new thing this past week and coming week!

You mentioned before that you often eat dinner with the members on the weekends... Is this a regular occurrence? Is it usually the same members each week, or do you rotate through the Ward?
We eat lunches on the weekends, yes. This is every weekend, there is an assignment a church member receives and they assign families to feed the missionaries. Normally the people volunteer and they set that up during Relief Society or Elders Quorum at the end of the month. we rotate pretty well within the active ward members.

How are you coming on your Book of Mormon and New Testament reading?
I am in Ether and 1 Corinthians. This is my first time really getting solid in my New Testament reading I am sad to say, I wish I had done it sooner because I am learning lots! I will have it finished before I get home. :)

What was the best thing about last week?
hmm.... wow I don't know. We had LOTS of good work done with the members this week. the RMs are working real hard and we are also getting to work with several people and everyone is getting more excited. Also, yesterday the Stake President talked in our Sacrament Meeting and invited every member to pray about who they should give a Book of Mormon to and what they will share to them about the book. They were told to do it yesterday or next Sunday. He promised that if every member there did it we would have 15-20 baptisms in August. So I started talking to lots of the members who live within our area to get them Book of Mormon copies and we have several people excited to do it! So THAT is a great thing this week.

 What are you most looking forward to this week?
To invite lots of people to be baptized and work hard! I also look forward to learning a lot of new stuff from the New Testament and Book of Mormon. and we've got a couple less active families who are finally starting to progress and we got visits set with them, etc. I am just looking forward to being a missionary!! haha and we are finally making good progress in helping people reserve names for temple work. They have a temple trip here on the 27th so we are helping people with their family history, and I really enjoy that stuff!

It is true that ending the mission can be a sad thing, but I have come to realize that it will just be a new chapter. Elder Perry (I believe it was...) came home after serving a mission he had several successful moments sharing and preaching the gospel. In a missionary training video set we have one of the missionaries says that the last 6 months is really the missionary's time to shine because he's been trained, he's experienced, etc... well for the last 2 years I have been trained and experienced and I will be able to go home and be a great missionary still!! I am actually in process of setting goals for when I will be home and for my future and one of the goals I am setting is to be able to give at least one referral to the missionaries each year. Maybe, if I will be living in Utah my whole life, that will be a real challenge, but I plan to make missionary efforts a constant mindset of my life. I know that God has great things he needs me to do, and during this time doing all I can to be a good missionary He is preparing me for all the other tasks in the future he will need of me. I have come to know my Savior a lot these past 2 years, and I don't want to go home and have it stop there. That isn't how it should be, but I have learned what I need to do so I can continually grown to know Him even more, even though I won't have a black plastic nametag on. These past 2 years have been hard and stressful, but I would not take it back for all the money in the world, these past 2 years will be a treasure for me. I know I'll be home in 2 weeks, I forget sometimes, but I know it is coming. And I know it needs to come. I am excited to come home, even though I am very sad to leave this place, but I find a lot of peace knowing that God has a need for me back up there.

Well, have a great week!! I love you all!! Share the gospel!!

Elder Russell

Elder Plata 
Shopping in Catacaos
Dinner at Chili's!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stylin' Ties and a Baptism

hello family!!

Well, this week D got baptized!! That was a fun little deal, every baptism has a way of unifying the Ward together. Even though it was a Primary gal (her family has several members in it, that is why she has attended church for years but never been baptized) we were happy to take part. I got to do the ordinance and you always feel good after taking part in that.

What was the best thing that happened this week?
Lots of things actually!! But here are 2 things that were great:

J sent us a text this week saying he is coming home and plans to call us on Tuesday to go visit him!!! WOO!! He also said he was going to attend church yesterday (Sunday) in Chiclayo. We aren't quite sure what church he was referring to, but we are hoping for the best and happy he still is focused on the importance of church.

Us 2 companionships of Elders in our district went and bought a stylin' fabric one P-day and asked a sister in the Ward to make us ties. We showed them off yesterday all together and got lots of comments. The sister in the Ward was VERY content to hear all the 
compliments :) The picture has been sent.

Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
One funny thing of the week was the Ward Talent Show we put together!! We announced it would be starting at 6:30. We started at 8 when everybody finally showed up... Dad, you mentioned how the Mormon culture tends to run late to meetings... I feel ya.
But us missionaries ended up doing several skits. Have you ever seen "How animals eat their food" from youtube? You'll have to check it out, that is what we did. haha we also did "The Bad Samaritan" and the sister missionaries sang a song one of the members wrote about the first vision that was way cool! I have the videos, I will show them off when I get home.

How did you spend your P-day?
We went to Catacaos today. We went all touristy and bought things to bring home to our families. I got a cool thing or two. :)
Then we bought our food for the week. I still have a lot left over from buying last week, so this week I just bought soy milk, whole wheat bagels, cream cheese, and toothpaste. Bagels here are extremely rare, but recently we keep finding them in Tottus! And soy milk is a new favorite of mine, it is rather inexpensive here.

Logan wants to know if you ever see any llamas? :)
sadly not as often as you would think... but every now and then, yes! haha

Well, sorry I don't have too much to write this week... I also am going to try to help a reactivated member fill in his family search account, we are helping him send like 15 names this week if all goes well!! I love family history!!

This week I have been trying to advance a lot in my reading in the Bible. I am really enjoying the book of Acts, there is a lot of stuff in there I didn't know about honestly. But this morning it really hit me just how much I LOVE the Book of Mormon. I read Mormon 7 today and WOW I really like that chapter a lot!! It just puts together the purpose of the Book of Mormon, The Plan of Salvation, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ short and sweet. I love the Book of Mormon and I hope you are all reading it and feasting upon it every single day!

Well, I love you all! The church is true!! Have a great week!

Elder Russell

Monday, July 13, 2015

Zone Conference and Monopoly

Zone Conference with the Rasmussens

Hello family!!

This week went by quick! 

D is still right on target for this Sunday baptism, her interview is tomorrow and hopefully all goes well!

O is still in the hospital and we haven't heard anything from him since, we passed by his house to say hi to his family but we just got to talk to his son for a moment. They are doing well and I am sure that when all this gets sorted out they will progress real quick.

We had a quick Get to Know President and Sister Rasmussen Conference this week. That was really fun to get to know them better, and they also showed off many photos of their children, photos of their marriage, Pres. Rasmussen's mission, etc. They also talked about what appears to be the theme of their mission: Be epistles of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-3) and that is a really cool topic. They are really excited to be here and the mission already loves them, I do too. :) And Sister Rasmussen even prepared homemade cookies for us which were DELISH!

Do you have problems with bugs? And do you use mosquito netting over your bed?
We do not have mosquito problems in our apartment, like lots of other places in the mission. But in our room I am in constant combat against spiders and spiderwebs... and ants here and there. But we keep things clean and they are in process of finding another home.

What are you most looking forward to this week?
finding!! We need to find some new golden people!! I am also excited to see in Jorge Luis really does come back this week like he said! He said it is possible... so we'll see. I am also excited for interviews as well as the baptism of Daniella, and we are also working on a Ward Talent Show activity! so there is lots to look forward to!

We got E and T to church this Sunday!! So that was AWESOME! E apparently was up super late and couldn't attend with us this week... but it was great to get those two boys up there! T is a young man we are teaching. It is tricky because he is only 16 and his parents are not as receptive, but we are still working to see if we can get his parents out there and hopefully all works out!

E is still going strong for the 8th of August. Before we were working for the 25th of August, but then one of the last visits he told us "I said the 25th because I still wasn't sure if this was true and all that. But now I do. I want to be baptized. Like, tomorrow. Can I?"
We were like, "you've got to attend church with us! How about we prepare for the 8th of August?" And now he has his mind 100% set that on the 8th he is getting baptized. He is a real stellar young man, we are trying our best to get him all set to be a golden convert.

Well, the church is true!! My goals for finishing the mission is to finish the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. I am already in Mormon in the Book of Mormon, but I am only in St. John in the Bible, I've got to hurry up there, but I am learning LOTS! And I am already set that I will spend a good deal of time in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU studying more church doctrine books when I'm home with a free moment. I love to study the scriptures now, it is one of the best things we can do to strengthen ourselves.

Well, have a good week!! Love you all!

Elder Russell

Our Zone in July...
and some P-day Monopoly!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Getting to Know the Rasmussens

First Leadership Council Meeting with President and Hermana Rasmussen

Well this week was a great one!

President Rasmussen is really great!! And his wife is also very awesome! We got to see them during our leadership council meeting this week, where they read us their notes from the new Mission President Training they had with the 1st Presidency and Quorum of the 12. THOSE are some spectacular notes! The Second Coming is very close and now more than ever we need great missionaries and steadfast members.

They were pretty emotional and excited to be here. President served in the Dominican Republic when it first opened up to missionary service. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren (if I remember right...). His wife doesn't speak anything of Spanish, but she is learning REALLY fast! you can see the gift of tongues working in the both of them! Very happy people and you can see his energy, the first thing he said to us was that he was SO happy to be a missionary once again. I am excited to work with him for this last transfer.

So we have gotten word from J that he should be coming back in the middle of this month!! Which is awesome! We have decided there are a couple things we should have taught him better so we are going to get right to work on that when he gets back and maybe he can get baptized before too long!

E now has a baptismal date for the 29th of August. He is preparing to enter the university so he is in some preparation courses that take up a lot of his time and have a way of cancelling our visits.. but he told us "on the 29th of August I will get baptized", so we are working with that! He is doing well and we are finally getting routine visits with him now!

His brother in law E now has a baptismal date for the 8th of August! So that is really awesome and hopefully we can help him out there!

D will be getting baptized most likely the 19th of this month. It was going to be this coming Sunday but we are in the process of changing it to the 19th just to be better prepared. She is just so excited to be baptized, it is fun to teach her. :)

We visited O in the hospital this week. We visited his wife at their home earlier in the week and she said that he keeps talking about us and misses us. He brought his Book of Mormon to the hospital with his pamphlets and a pass along card with our number on it. He is such an awesome guy, and what we have taught him has really impacted him, I think real quick he is going to be back home and progressing for baptism.

From your house building photos: Is that a pretty common style of home for the people there where you are?
it depends on what part you live in. But that is a more humble style of home, but common in that part of town.

What was the best thing about your week?
hmm... getting to know President and Hermana Rasmussen!

What was the craziest/funniest thing you saw or experienced this week?
I had a rather interesting encounter with a man in the marketplace today... This man when he saw me just started going off about how he wants a girlfriend that is white, "white like you" he said to me, and he just keep going on and on about how I am very white and how he is of a darker skin color, and that he wants a white girlfriend, and all the saleswomen around us were watching and dying of laughter... I just stood there listening until he finally walked away. You meet fun people in the marketplace... haha

Well, all is going well! This week I am really starting to pick up the pace and get cracking! My plans are to set up baptismal dates for every weekend of August, so hopefully we can get that set up!

Have a good week!! Love you!!

Elder Russell

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Full Day of English Speaking

Hello family!!

Well, I am going to have to be a little quick today, I've got lots of things to do actually! but this has been a fun week!!

We had a real bummer deal... Tuesday was J's baptismal interview. As the District Leader and my companion waited for his arrival for the interview, he calls to say he is leaving for Chiclayo for a job offer and doesn't know when he'll be back. so we are going to try to get back in contact with him, but he's gone for now. It was a bummer deal and made a bit of stress for the night but we are right back to working hard and I think next week we are going to have a baptism of D!

As for President Rasmussen, I will be meeting him tomorrow night. This transfer we got lots of stuff set up to get to know him. so fun stuff! I will let you know more about him when I meet him.

So about yesterday, We went to Palominos, a small little village like 20 minutes outside of Tambo Grande. we were 6 companionships, every companionship having a North American in it. We worked as Translators for The Hope Alliance Humanitarian group!!! They were doing eye exams and giving out glasses. Of the 11 volunteers only like 3 could speak Spanish so that is how we helped out. SOOO AWESOME!! I will explain the whole deal when I get home and explain with the pictures. But all of them are from the Park City or SLC area! A full day of English speaking and holy smokes that was one of the best service activities I've had on my mission! They also have projects today and tomorrow and they got other missionaries helping them there. I wanted to do it the three days! I think when I get home I want to look into doing one of those trips! haha That group is the group Brother Ferrell does the dental trips with actually, I think. Lots of new friends to look up when I get home!

E is doing great, he is progressing and we are teaching his brother-in-law too who is super great, he is golden! When we invited him to baptism he was like "Of course! If this turns out to be true why wouldn't I get baptized?!" And it all just keeps clicking and making perfect sense to him! It has been really cool to teach him. And we are still trying to get more of the family to listen. Bit by bit they are coming!

D is a 8 year old we are teaching. She is honestly a Ward baptism, weekly attending girl, but neither of her parents are members. She lives with her mom and grandma and goes to church with her grandma every week. Her grandma wants her baptized, the mom is allowing it, and D
wants to be baptized too. The Mom just left for Lima looking for a job so we lost the teaching process with her for now, but D is just about all set and has really helped us learn how to keep the doctrine simple which can sometimes be a bit tricky. And having to find fun ways to teach to keep them focused: The Plan of Salvation drawing map, movies, games (she asks for a game after EVERY lesson so we promise one every once and a while if she reads the scriptures) and it has been fun!

Well, all is well!! Have a great week!

Elder Russell
On our way!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Temple Dedication

Hello my dear family!!

The temple dedication was AWESOME!!! A real nice set of journal entries for sure. The cultural event we were able to watch via satellite and that was really cool to see all the dances of Northern Peru. Piura was one of the first groups and we didn't get the web page set up to watch it until it was about half way in the Piura performance. But they represented real well and it was fun. We got J there and a couple other less actives we got starting to return, so it turned out nice!

And the temple dedication was a real wow. To walk into the stake center was great. They prepared it to be as if it were the temple, and boy did I feel it. And when they started the dedication and said the prayer, WOW. Seriously I have REALLY missed the feeling of the temple. But I felt it there. When I get home one of the first things I plan to do is go to the temple.

President Uchdorf and Elder Bednar came to Trujillo to dedicate it. President Uchdorf was really great and talked a moment about father's day. Because yesterday was father's day, he talked about how yesterday was a perfect day to remember our earthly fathers as well as our HEAVENLY father through this special event. A new way to look at Father's day, wouldn't you say? :)

Really great talks, an amazing prayer, the spirit was way strong! And it was nice to see several recent coverts there as well as a big group of my old Tambo Grande friends showed up!

Well, about the missionary work. A couple of our progressing investigators left town without telling us... one to Chimbote, another to Chulucanas, another to Lima.... bummer deal there but hopefully they contact the missionaries there! 2 of the 3 I think will be living with LDS members actually!

But we got our Nicodemus progressing (E, but just like Nicodemus approached Jesus, E came to us). He is a top notch young man who wants to join the church and we got him reading and praying and he is doing real well.

J will be having his baptismal interview Tuesday, and his date is set for Saturday! This week we got him working on getting a testimony of Thomas S Monson, and I think he got it! We watched that video "On the Lord's Errand" of his life, and we all walked out filled with the spirit. J walked out super edified, so that was a really great lesson. He should be great and set for Saturday!

We got a couple others this week to set baptismal dates. We have a family that is super awesome but the father now is getting sent all around town for spinal problems that have recently come up, so hopefully we can get a hold of them this week! O and his family could be our convert family! Pray for O's health and that we can get a hold of them!

well, I am going to start sending some pics now! Love you all!! Have a great week!!

Elder Russell

Some photos from last week's house building service project