Wow a lot seems to be happening back at home! I look back on the 50 miler with fond memories. I have found myself looking back on many memories of youth trips, family vacations, school experiences lately and I just feel so grateful for the experiences that I have been blessed with. I think I always look back on experiences with a better vision than when I experienced them. I seem to forget the hard times and only remember the good times. It is pretty neat. I even find myself starting to do that with my mission. I have 2 months now! Wow, time really does fly by. I look back on my old area and the people I met and the times when we ran getting drenched in the rain...all great experiences. I forget the sweat I had on my face and I only remember that we walked 45 minutes in the heat to the chapel with a family so the mother could enter the waters of baptism. Being a missionary is really the greatest blessing I have ever received.
The family is experiencing her fair share of trials, but with every trial comes an opportunity to show the Lord our obedience and hence receive blessings. It is in the trials of our lives that we learn who we really are and who the Lord wants us to be. It is kind of funny to think back on the trials we had as a family and the trials I had as an individual...I realize that I have grown and that my trials now are completely different. I now have trials with adapting to a new culture and being away from everything I have ever known. I really have only one thing to rely on now, the Lord. He has always been there for me, in the best and worst of times. When I was willing to listen, I was blessed. When I didn't heed His promptings, He patiently waited for me to come back.
So we have been working hard this week and trying to adapt to the new area. The Mission President is turning the mission around and changing a lot of things. He has asked us to meet certain goals for each key indicator (baptisms weekly, lessons, etc) and many are much higher than what we have been achieving. We have put our foot down on the gas and tried to give it everything we have. One of our goals is to have more people accept the invitation to be baptized. We did a better job this week and have about 11 or 12 people now with baptismal dates (but I don't think all will be baptized...lets hope)
About the photo...that is perfectly okay! I was worried it wouldn't go through and, to tell you the truth, I have felt bad that I haven't sent any photos. So from here on, feel free to check my email to see if I posted anything you didn't receive.
Thanks for sharing the gospel everyone! It is really the best gift we can give someone. I even sometimes forget how special the gospel really is and I feel disanimated. We should always be ready to give THE reason for the hope that is within us as Paul directs.
So cultural differences for this week...lets see how many I can remember
Urination in public...just about anywhere.
Noche de Hermanamiento (Fellowshipping night) was very interesting. Lets just say that I ended up with lip gloss all over my face. It was a game where you had to try and not laugh...if you laughed, you got painted. I laughed.
All buildings and churches are gated and locked.
There is this smell next to this field we walk by every day...lets just say I can barely breath. ha ha.
So spiritual experiences for the week (at least some of them)
I gave my first and second blessing in Spanish this week. That was definitely different and it was kind of hard. Not only are you trying to listen to the spirit, but you are trying to speak in another language. I think it turned out okay.
I have been really blessed this week in my Scripture study to find answers to investigators questions. I love searching the scriptures with questions in mind. It always turns out better.
I went on my first divisions with Elder Contrerras from Venezuela. He is a great missionary and really a hard worker. I felt the spirit really strong that day. I want to be as hard as a worker as he is. I was able to help teach some lessons and answer questions.
So anyway, it was a great week. I am so grateful for all of you and for your examples. May God be with you and strengthen you always. I feel your prayers across the miles and I hope that you feel mine as well. Till next week.
Elder Grant Russell