Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009........MTC week 2

So I think I am starting to understand the schedule here...

Step 1) you get up, you're tired all day, you eat a few meals, go to a ton of meetings, read and pray a lot, and then go to bed.
Step 2) Repeat step 1

But really, every day seems the same. I am anxiously awaiting the time to go out in the mission field so that I can deal with real people with real needs. I understand that the mock lessons and practices are necessary but they just seem so fake most of the time. I mean how often is an investigator going to say, "Yes, I know what a prophet is. Yeah, agency! I know all about that and I could even list off the major points of the gospel and the Atonement. I will read the whole Book of Mormon by next week and I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet..." I wish! But oh well, what can you do when the only people you teach are other missionaries and BYU students. Ha ha.

It is great to hear about what everyone is doing at home. It sounds like everything is going well. Tell Colton Reed congratulations on his mission call! That is awesome.

But yes, I am doing well. I have adjusted pretty well to the missionary schedule, etc, but what I am having the hardest time doing is trying to find out who the Lord wants me to be as a missionary. I feel like I have to competing personalities (one being the quite, reserved Elder Russell that is sweet and never says much and the other being the outgoing and funny Elder Russell and makes people laugh) and I don't know which the Lord wants me to be. It has been hard for me to try and figure this out. I guess maybe the Lord wants me to be myself but at the same time I feel like I should be changing into the person He wants me to be. It is a little frustrating.

I have already had several experiences that have changed me. One day, we had a substitute teacher and she had us bear our testimonies. It was the first time that I had ever borne my testimony in Spanish. It went well. Upon hearing our districts testimonies, the teacher invited us to come bear our testimonies in her class, especially because there is a missionary in her class who wanted to go home. So we did. We went later that day and bore our testimonies and guess what! I translated for my companion because he doesn't feel very comfortable speaking English. I think I did okay.

As far as the language goes, I have good days and bad days. I feel like I have improved but it is still so difficult to teach the lessons and things. I just never feel prepared enough to teach. I hope I will improve.

Business related, I haven't yet received my package but we will check tonight. I should get it soon if you sent it last week. All of my companions are leaving Monday or Tuesday but I have yet to get my flight information. I could be leaving before my next P-day or I could be here for a while. It all really depends.

I thank you for your prayers and thoughts on my behalf. I love you all and I am so grateful to have you as family. Please forward this email to as many people as you can. We only have so much time to write and I probably wont be able to write everyone. Dearelder.com works great! You can use that I can read your letters all week long. Well my time is about up, so I have to go, but I will keep you in my thoughts. I love you all. Until later!


Elder Grant Russell

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009........ MTC week 1

Hey there family! While it feels like I just said goodbye to you all, it also feels like I haven't seen you in ages. This past week has been one of the longest of my life but it has been great too. I love being a missionary. I will try to fill you all in on a few of the things that have been happening...

The first few days are just a blur. Meeting after meeting, orientation after orientation...it was kind of confusing and overwhelming but I guess it has to happen sooner or later. Trying to learn all of the new rules and procedures has been a challenge. It isn't until you break a rule that you know about it, or at least it seems that way.

My companions are great! I am in a threesome. It is Elder Garay from Utah (whose parents came from Mexico), Elder Villasenor who is from Mexico and me. We are in a district of 5 elders (the other two are from Bolivia and Utah). All of them are going to Spanish speaking American missions. I think I am one of the only gringo, white guys to be in advanced Spanish. Our Zone is a combination of advanced Spanish districts (with all native speakers from Spain, Mexico, USA, etc) and a few intermediate level districts with other white boys like me haha. I have really come to love my companions already and we are pretty close now. But I can't lie, it has still been a challenge to be in a class where only Spanish is spoken (and that by native speakers). I feel a lot of pressure to be fluent especially from white intermediate speakers who have been the MTC for several weeks. They have learned so much! It is almost intimidating. Oh well.

Being here is great though. We have extraordinary teachers and lessons and I am learning so much. The hard part is trying to apply it all. One of the most frustrating things has been trying to give the lessons in Spanish. I know what I want to say, and I think I am a decent teacher in the gospel, but I just can't say it the way I want to yet! I know it will come in time though because the Lord qualifies whom he calls.

It is a neat experience to get up in the morning and put on my nametag. When I do so, I try to remember that it has both my Family name and Christ's written on it, and that I must live worthy of the call. I still have so much to learn. With only three weeks or so in the MTC, we have to try and fit in as much studying and learning as most missionaries do in 9 or more weeks. It is kind of stressful and frustrating when I find both myself and other things cuasing me to waste time. It isn't my time after all; it is God's time becuase we are on His errand.

I have had some very spiritual experiences since coming here. One day during gym time, Elder Villasenor hurt his knee while playing soccer. He was fine for a while but he got progressively worse every day until he was limping and could barely walk. I offered to give him a blessing and me and Elder Garay did so a few nights ago. He has since recovered really well and I know it is because of the priesthood and faith in prayers that he was healed. I was also able to go to the temple this morning and it was great. It was the first time that I had gone to any temple other than Medford and I really enjoyed it. It was nice to take a step back and realize why we are all here. I will definitely miss going on my mission. I have yet to meet anyone going to Nicaragua...which is a little disapointing. It would be nice to get to know some people and have some friends before I go.

Tonight we have a MTC fireside and I am really excited to see who will come. It is normally an apostle or general authority. The last two weeks, Elder Ballard and Elder Nelson came. It doesn't matter who comes though, it will be good. One thing that I have learned here while in the MTC is that while there are so many elders with strong testimonies and great skills, we all have different calls. I know that while I am not the best speaker and not the best teacher here, I have been called to Nicaragua for a reason. I am a totally unique as a missionary and God will use me as a tool in His hands to help at least one person. I know that.

I have been praying more than ever for God's help and guidance as I embark on this great journey as a missionary. I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts on my behalf. I have felt them and I am grateful for them. God bless you in your lives and I pray for you! The church is true and I know that God lives. I know that He really does love His children, not only as a whole but as individuals. He knows each of us personally. For now, I say goodbye from the great MTC. Until next week.

Elder Grant Russell

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009........MTC day 1

13 de Mayo

Querida Familia,

I am so excited to be here at the MTC serving as a missionary. Upon arriving, I was a little bit nervous. While I am still anxious and overwhelmed by all that has happened in the last few days (and hours), I know that I will have the strength of the Lord to overcome any short coming that I have. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I can’t wait to serve him. I have been put in a district with 4 other native Spanish speakers. One is from La Paz, Bolivia; two are from Mexico; and one has grown up in the U.S. My companion Elder Garay is from Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for a lot of his life. Each has a unique story and two are converts. Their spirit and testimony are truly inspiring and make me want to be a better missionary and servant of the Lord.

As for now, I bid you all farewell. I love you all and hope the best for you. I pray for you’re and know the Lord will bless you!

Love Elder Russell

P.S. I leave the 9th of June if everything goes well. I think it is that Wednesday morning.

Hasta luego!

Going forth to Serve...a mother's view

His bags are packed, he's ready to go...
look out Nicaragua...Elder Russell's on his way!

That's where I'm going....back to Provo.
Grant with his brothers, one last photo...
Love you brother, see you in 3 years!

The day started early, his bags were packed, and reality of 2 years away hit home. As a mother you prepare them their whole life waiting for the time that your sons can make the decision to serve a missionary for the Lord. You watch them grow, start school, reach the age of 8 and get baptized, receive the priesthood, pass the sacrament, bless the sacrament, start driving, dating, and go off to college only to return shortly before leaving again to serve a mission. You know you want it to be this way, but the heart strings are pulled ever so tight, as you try to hold back the tears, give hugs that will last for 2 years, and say your good byes, trusting that the Lord will take care of them. Trying to be strong and let them know you love them, support them, and pray for them daily. I am so thankful that Grant, along with his brothers, have made righteous choices allowing them to be worthy to be missionaries for the Lord. Grant may you be obedient to the mission rules, take advantage of this great gift you've been given, work until the day you come home, and listen to the spirit as you become an instrument in His hands. He will return a far better man and will be molded by the Lord to become whom he wants him to be. The morning breaks, the shadow flee....
Hurrah for Israel! Be faithful! Lord please protect him.
I don't care how much you prepare for this day,
this final goodbye is always hard.There he goes, see you in 2 years Elder Russell.
Adios Senor!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm Officially a Missionary Now!

Grant was set apart as a missionary tonight. A long awaited day for mom and dad....19 yrs. For Grant a long time as well. We will miss him terribly, but he will go forth and serve faithfully...watch out Nicaragua, here he comes!

Grant and his brothers, handsome group.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tyler McKenzie Bottjer's blessing

Ain't She sweet?

Grant isn't liking this at all...she will be 2 when he returns

We gathered as a family to be a part of Tyler's baby blessing before Grant left on his mission. It was wonderful to have everyone home to take part, and be together before Grant leaves on Tuesday for Provo Missionary Training Center. A lovely day, a beautiful grand daughter blessed. Certainly a payday for us all.
Big Brother Landon just being a 2 yr. old boy

Grant's talk on Mother's Day

Grant spoke in church today. It was Mother's Day. It was wonderful to hear his words about mothers. Here is the outline of his talk...

Mothers Play an Integral Role in the Plan of Salvation: Hens Gathering Chicks

Introduction of Myself


Mission Call

Teaching the Plan of Salvation

The Plan of Salvation in Summary: Plan Set forth, War begins

We are of divine origins. We are children of God.

Man was also in the abeginning with God. (D+C 93:29)

God is the eFather of fspirits (Hebrews 12:9)

we are the aoffspring of God (Acts 17:29)

In the premortal life, we exercised agency and we according to our righteousness were deemed “noble and great ones”

Plan is laid out-

And there stood aone among them that was like unto God (Jesus Christ), and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and bwe will make an earth whereon these may cdwell;

25 And we will aprove them herewith, to see if they will bdo all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who akeep their first bestate (premortal life) shall be added upon (get a body); and they who keep not their first estate (premortal life) shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second cestate (mortal body) shall have dglory added upon their heads for ever and ever (eternal life).

Our choice-

27 And the aLord said: Whom shall I bsend? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And canother answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will dsend the first.

28 And the asecond was angry, and kept not his first bestate (premortal life); and, at that day, many followed after him.

Our choice to follow God’s plan and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior has brought upon us the wrath of Satan who desires to have us.

The War Begins-

Satan wants what he cannot have-your body. His work would be to distract, confuse, and lead the children of God from their eternal goal

Become like God

God’s purposes were to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We were to know God, and Jesus Christ, whom he had sent.

God presented a plan wereby our quest to become like God could be fulfilled.

God’s work as stated in Moses 1:39 is in clear opposition to Satan’s desire which is to make all men miserable like unto himself.

On this day celebrating mothers, we will learn together of the magnificent and essential role that mothers’ fulfill in that great plan. We will learn how God uses Mother’s to fulfill His purposes from the beginning and throughout all eternity, how he uses Mother’s to overcome Satan and bring about the salvation of souls.

Eve-“mother of all living”.

Tempted of Satan, Partook of fruit and gave of Adam to eat thus bringing on the Fall of Man. Satan gaining power to tempt man thought he could frustrate God’s plans, but God’s plan would not fail.

Following the Fall, Adam and Eve bore children.

Moses 5: 11-12

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had aseed, and never should have bknown good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

And Adam and aEve blessed the name of God, and they made all things bknown unto their sons and their daughters.

Moses 4:21

“And I will put aenmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bbruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

(Christ’s victory over death made all those men who died in Adam alive, all made possible because of the choice of the “mother of all living”)

Sarah-“princess”-name suggesting royalty

Gen 17:16 And I will bless her, and agive thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a bmother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

(Christ came through her. Through her posterity, all nations of the world are being blessed through missionary work and other means.)

D+C 4 “marvelous work”

D+C 18 “worth of souls”

Satan and his power are again overcome through the word of God preached in all lands.

Mary- the possible Egyptian translation, a name derived from mara Mary means The beautiful or The perfect one.

Her bringing forth and raising of the Savior of all mankind was an absolutely essential and pivotal part of the plan. Christ was the plan. His Atonement made it all possible.

Alma 7:11-14

Mother’s of the Modern Day continue to overcome Satan and push forth the plan. They choose to raise families in an increasingly wicked world.

Latter day mother’s fight for righteousness. I remember my mother who during my younger education would be actively involed in her children’s education. When an issue arose over teaching of immoral or suspected immoral things in school, my mom was there to raise her voice and defend the faith. Elder literally means “defender of the faith” and I would consider my mother and many other women elders today.

Mothers who know!

What is it in these mothers that gives them the power to overcome Satan? Helaman’s strippling warriors give us the answer: they doubted not because their mothers knew it.

Today in our world, we need mothers who know!

Chirst showed great resprect for the mother figure. Repeatedly throughout the scriptures, he laments when addressing God’s children comparing himself to a Hen who would have gathered her chicks, but they would not. I think it is only fitting that He ended his earthly ministry by caring for his mother.

He said, “Behold thy mother’ speaking to John. Today that call goes to each of us from the Savior, “Behold thy mother”.

Care for her and love her, but behold her and her divinly appointed role to help fulfill the plan of salvation. Behold her works.

Be grateful for them. Truly they work beside the savior to gather the chicks under their wing so that they might partake of the happiness that is God’s and live with him again.