Hey there family!
Wow, I cant believe that another week has passed already. I think the weeks are getting shorter and shorter every time. I am glad to hear that my letter got through last week. I was worried that it didn’t go through because I spent a lot of time writing it. Phew I guess =)
So how is everyone doing? It sounds like Joy and Josh are doing well and I was really excited to get that letter from you Mom about the scholarship. It is really nice to know that I have some cushion to work with when I go back to school. So do I need to write the letter right now? I only skimmed the letter and it seemed like it had already been differed…
Everything is going well here. This last week was a really interesting, yet special week. I learned more about my weaknesses and what I need to do to be a better missionary.
We have been working hard with a Father and step daughter this week trying to convince them to enter the waters of baptism and receive the many blessings that God has ready for them. We practically visited every day this past week trying to prepare them for this past Saturday, but when the day came, they didn’t feel ready. I think as a missionary we have the highest of highs but the lowest of lows. I always feel so sad when an investigator backs away. The father has a long history in the Evangelical church. He studied three years in a university to receive his degree to preach and did so for some time. He knows the bible really well but has some strange ideas about certain topics. It has been kind of tough to break some bad habits…
When my companion visited the family Sunday morning to invite them to church (I was in another part of the town inviting others with a member), they apparently backed completely away saying that they didn’t want anything and they didn’t even come to church yesterday. I was disappointed. I too talked with an investigator in the morning who had apparently read some things on the internet about the church and gave me the impression that he thought we were liars and he returned his Book of Mormon to me. That was a first…
But such is life for missionaries…you have disappointments and you have moments of pure elation. In church, one investigator visited that has been very positive. He had to ride the bus to get to church too so I was excited. That shows a lot of faith and interest when neighbors wont come because they have clothes to clean or couldn’t shower. He really liked the meeting and it was a nice Sunday. But it got better. Remember what I said about the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
The branch and ward officially split yesterday and they called the Branch President and Elders Quorum President, two recently returned missionaries. I am really excited about the calls because I know that we will have more local support and the work is going to explode. We initiated the classes, or the full three hours and it was just beautiful =)
But it got better. When we were visiting Carlos and Fatima, the recent converts who are just on fire in the gospel, they told us that Juan Ramon (the evangelical) had come to visit Carlos with questions and concerns. They had talked about 2 hours until Juan Ramon had changed and said to Carlos that he wanted faith like him. He had told Carlos that he was going to be baptized the following week and that he only needed more faith.
So we visited him, right then. It was about 7:30 PM and it was really dark and raining, but we didn’t care. We had to see this change for ourselves. We entered his humble little dwelling lit by candles and there we chatted comfortably with a man that was completely different than in the morning. We sang a few hymns (which he loves) and then committed him to continue reading the Book of Mormon. He wants to read it all this week. We testified that they could receive answers to their doubts and know with a surety that the message we had shared was true. It was truly a miracle the change that had taken place.
God continues to bless even though I feel so inadequate as a missionary. I learn new things every day and I typically learn from my mistakes. If you can do the math you find that I make quite a few mistakes. But the truth is, God is working through me, and I know it. I can feel His spirit with me throughout the day and I feel so grateful for the opportunities that He gives to me. I know that I have very little experience, but I feel like I have grown already.
What I learn from this story is the importance of member missionary work. Carlos, also being a recent convert, has little experience in sharing the gospel. But God used him to help us in this work. It is so interesting that yesterday I had shared the very scripture of how God uses small and simple things to bring about great things with another member. I always seem to answer my own questions when I answer the questions and needs of others.
I am so grateful for all of you and for your examples to me. I know that God lives and that He loves me and all of you. I know that God is a God of miracles and that the greatest miracle I have seen here in Nicaragua is the change that comes upon people when they keep the commandments and follow the Lord. It truly is a mighty change of heart. Always remember that we can make a difference. We have the restored gospel and we must share it.
With all my love,
Elder Grant Russell