Monday, August 3, 2009

I will never forget his countenance........week 12

Well everyone, it is so nice to hear from you! I feel so strengthened by your letters and words of wisdom. I hope that you may also be strengthened by some of the things that I am learning and that the Lord is showing me each day.

So everything went well in Texas...that is good to hear. I remember flying into Texas just about 2 months ago with face glued to the window peering outside to see what it looked like. Oh, good memories. I feel like every memory just improves with time, like wine...not that I approve of that. I just have heard of it, ha ha.

Troy is officially in Medical school now then. Good luck with that! Hey, just think...when I return you will be half way done and my time is flying by!

Tyler, you're doing well, which is good to hear. Still alive. I love you and you have always been a good example to me. And don't forget to say hi to people for me up at school that we both know! Ha ha, thanks.

Sean, I am so excited for you! I know you are going to have a great experience up at school. I frequently think about the experiences I had at school, the people I met and the lessons they taught me and I cant help but feel extremely grateful for what I experienced. Don't get me wrong, it was tough at times, but that is about all I remember of those times...that they existed. I don't really remember them if you know what I mean.

Joy, continue working hard and like I said last week, God has a special plan for you, for me and for each one of us here on the earth. Things happen and that is just the way we learn. I often use to think I was coming to Nicaragua to teach some things, but I think I am learning more than I am teaching.

Dad, so I wanted to tell you something funny that happened this week when I was showing our family photo to some investigators. They thought you looked like some famous person...I thought you would like that.

Mom, thanks for everything you do. I really can feel the love across the miles. You might find it interesting that about 95% of the time people say that I look like you. I hope to be like you too!

Wow time really does fly by...Aaron Hale and Mason Grow are already coming back from their missions. And Michael McPhee too!? Please send them my regards and my gratitude for their service in their respective parts of the world. Really this work is too grand for one, three, or 53,000 missionaries. But we do what we can.

So that brings the count up to I think 5 or 6 of my friends that are married now...that is definitely new. Best wishes to Kenny and Krista and Ashley! And Landon, keep on learning bud. You'll pass me up in skill level about as quick as you will in height...which is soon. Tell Alex congratulations as well. I have thought about him as I have read the letters from Brother Minor and I am so happy that made the decision to be baptized. Also, give all the others my regards.

Like the Elder Bednar said, we are missionaries for eternity, not for two years. I have been able to see a huge difference in the Lives of members who do missionary work and those who don't. Those members who devote time to help with the work have a greater measure of the spirit and a greater love for the work. I know that they are far more likely to remain in the church than those that pursue personal matters. We are here to preach of Christ and invite others to come unto Him. I have really pondered on that the last few weeks as I have meditated over each person that I have taught. I have really been blessed to see the change in investigators and even see the blessings begin to flow as they have taken steps of faith to be baptized not knowing before hand the meaning of all things.

This week we had the great opportunity to baptize Fatima, the wife of Carlos that was baptized the week before. It was a really special day for us and for Carlos. Carlos is an amazing convert. He was given the True to the Faith book at his baptism and has already finished it. He has also begun to read Principles of the Gospel and I feel so grateful to have played a part in his conversion. His wife had reservations at first. To tell you the truth, the both of them were very sceptical when we first met. They only listened to learn about the church. Carlos said that in the past he hid from Missionaries, but that has all changed. I will never forget his countenance the morning of his baptism.

Fatima's baptism

We were walking close to his house to visit some other investigators when he, riding his bike towards us, called to us. (Definitely a change from hiding from the missionaries) He, with a huge smile on his face talked with us briefly and shared his excitement to be baptized. It is moments like that make all of the hours worthwhile.

Fatima has changed a ton too. She never had prayed out load before nor in a group setting before. The other night, she volunteered to pray and gave a very beautiful and sincere prayer to our Father in Heaven. I couldn't´t help but thank my Heavenly Father for His marvelous power and ability to change lives and bless His people.

Jose and Leticia also continue to progress. They are reading the scriptures and continue to have questions about things. That is ALWAYS a good thing. QUESTIONS equal interest, at least most of the time. Leticia and Jose have both found work since being baptized and for months before, neither had a set job. Just one of the many blessings of being obedient. Jose and Carlos both received the Aaronic priesthood last week and it was so neat.

This week was fast Sunday and we needed to fast as a companionship. We have been having a steady flow of investigators but we have also had a few baptisms. Our area is really far from where we do the baptisms and as a result, we have lost some time in the last few weeks to work in the area. I was feeling a bit down when I thought about the possibilities we have and those who were progressing. So I decided to fast for investigators and that we might be able to find more and teach more. And well, God definitely answers prayers.

On Sunday we had 6 investigators at church (a huge improvement from the previous week) and I was ecstatic. The thing is, without visiting church, investigators cant really progress nor be baptized. I have had many investigators but few have been attending church. It was definitely an answer to prayer to have 6 this week in church. I felt so humbled and blessed to have received an answer to my prayer and fast. I have a strong testimony of both. Also, my companion was blessed in that a member offered him a suit coat which he desperately needed. He hasn´t had one for some time because he lost it about two areas ago.

Anyway, the work is going well. This week we have one baptism scheduled! The MASON! Yeah, it is going to be SWEET! He has been investigating the church for some time and many missionaries have taught him. His daughter and Son in Law are active members and are so grateful that he is taking this step in his life. He is ready and excited. It is going to be the biggest baptism yet for us because he is inviting a whole bunch of his friends. I cant wait.

Cultural Differences-

-About every telephone pole and public thing is painted in the colors of the Sandinista party and the majority have the Party leaders face plastered on them too. It is like have President Obama´s face on every telephone pole, booth and bus stop in the whole country...
-I always have funny bus experiences but today was a new one. I thing there was a pig on the bus. I am not sure, but I heard some really high pitched squealing.
-I saw a person sleeping in the sidewalk this week too. It was saddening...I am not sure if they were homeless, drunk, or just taking a nap.
-Everyone drinks soda. It is more common than water here.

I know that this church is true. It is almost cliche in the church to say that because many say it without really pondering the magnificence of it all. I know that THIS is the church of God and that I am anxiously engaged in HIS work right now. It is such a pleasure, responsibility, opportunity. I really am being blessed! I feel like I don't deserve the blessings I am receiving, but the Lord always blesses us with more than we can dream of when we are obedient.

I thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and words on my behalf. I really do feel the love across the miles and I know that God is protecting you and blessing you all for your hard work and service in His Kingdom. We must always remember that nothing is more important than building up His kingdom. We are called to share what we know and how else are the people in this world going to find the truth unless we share it. Thanks for you dedication to the Lord and for your time in His work.

May God be with, always.

Elder Grant Russell