Monday, August 31, 2009

Changes and Growth........week 16

Dear family,

Well it sounds like everything is going well in the Russell household. That really makes me feel good. I am excited for Sean and his future experiences. I think it probably isn´t good for me, but I frequently find myself thinking about that school year at BYU. I think that I made more life long friends in that 9 month period than in all my life. It was really neat. And thanks mom for the update from my facebook. I was wondering if you might be able to send a message out saying that friends can email me. I would like to receive emails from them so I can email back. Writing is time consuming and expensive so if you wouldn´t mind, post my email address on facebook and an announcement.

This week has been quite the week of change for me…more challenges and opportunities to serve. I believe that God always has a purpose and reason for what He does, even when we don’t quite understand.

This week was the week of changes. My companion, Elder Menendez received the call Tuesday night that he was to report in the stake center at 8:00am. So we spent the night cleaning up his stuff and reminiscing our three months together. It was hard for me to say goodbye to him because everything I know of Nicaragua was with him. He was my first companion and I feel like a part of me has left. He left for Chinandegas (the poor soul went to one of the hottest areas in the mission).

Wednesday I received my new companion, Elder Garcia, from Honduras Comayaguela. Yes, that is right…I think I have a brother who served there. Maybe Troy could tell me which areas he served in that stake and I can see if my companion is from one of the areas. Anyway, he has 22 months in the mission and really knows his scriptures. I think I can learn a lot from him. He definitely is different than Elder Menendez though. I think I have to always look for the best in each companion so as to not be ungrateful for what I have. I learned many things from Elder Menendez and I expect the same from Elder Garcia. He is working with me in Las Colinas now.
Our investigators are doing well but we need to find some more. Please pray for us. We are trying to work more with references from members because it is so much more effective. This week we had some great experiences with the investigators and some references too.

We have been working with a man named Pedro Jose who has cancer and is 63 years old. He is really receptive to the message and wants to do everything right. Several years back he had a dream in which the ´´church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Members´´ played a part. He was very excited to learn of our church and has desired baptism since that time. I always feel so blessed to work with the people here who have so much faith. In church Sunday, he said he wanted to die in the church.

We also contacted a family who was a reference from Brother Robles (an animated and super hard working recent convert) and they were very positive. My companion has been helping to listen to the investigators closely and to answer their questions and needs rather than just teach a preplanned lesson. It was really neat to see the spirit directing the lesson.

This week we had the first Fellowshipping Night (like mutual for the whole ward) and it went well. The Branch was well represented and we are trying to activate many less active and inactive members so they can enjoy the blessings God has for them.

In church Sunday we also learned that Carlos Salaya and Fatima Dolores (the family of converts that Elder Menendez and I baptized a month ago) received their first callings in the ward. Carlos is the new Ward mission leader and Fatima is the first counselor in the Relief Society. It is so special to see the change that has occurred in that small yet humble family. I see the burning desire of faith in their eyes to serve the Lord and keep His commandments and it just brings such joy into my heart to know that the Lord Has called them to serve.

This week in the changes, the president told us that a mother of one of the missionaries here in Nicaragua was murdered the previous week in Honduras. I was shocked but I admired the response that the missionary had given to the President. He said, "I will not go home but serve here in honor of my mother". Powerful, very powerful.

When I think about why I am here in Nicaragua serving, I can give several reasons. Primarily, I am here to serve the Lord because I love Him and want to share the love that he has shown me with everyone else. Second, I am here to represent my family and to show my gratitude for them and all that they have given me throughout my whole life. Every week I gain appreciation for the family that I have and the lessons I learned in the home. I really can say that I have been born as Nephi of old with goodly parents who loved the Lord.

Thanks for your prayers and strength. Thanks for your examples and desires to serve in that part of the world. I will do my best to serve here. I know that I am being an instrument in the Lords hands to bring about the salvation of many souls.

May God always protect you as He protects me.
Elder Grant Russell