Hi there again family. It is me, Elder Russell in Nicaragua!
So it is hard to believe that another week has passed already. The weeks just keep on moving quicker...I guess it is time that I buckle down and put her into the last gear. Time´s a´wasting.
No but this week has been very good...I have had some great experiences once again which makes me feel wonderful. I am accumulating a history of stories that I will have to look back on for years to come. This week we had a baptism! Enrique Cedeño, the 65 year old Mason, was baptized on Tuesday and it was really special. I don't think we have ever and will ever have a baptism like it again in the mission. Normally, the baptisms of investigators are quick, simple and small. This baptism was different. First of all, the family was really involved in the agenda and so every item on the list was special because they planned talks, songs, etc that were special to him. He had friends of 30 years giving the baptism talk and it was just really nice. And there were nearly 70 people there! That is EXTREMELY rare in Nicaragua and even rare in the states. I think most baptisms here are successes when they have 20 people there to support them.
We also had some great experiences with a family this week who has been having some trials. We invited them to church this week and they came! (Trumpets and angels singing!) We set a baptism date and I am really excited about their progress. Like I said, we are just the messengers.
This week has been a week of reflection for me. In the ward we are serving, 3 missionaries have returned in the last month. Sunday, hearing their testimonies and words of advice (some even specifically for us) I was able to feel a renewal of my desire to serve. I think most missionaries, if not all, pass through times of discouragement, but it is in the times like these that we must fight the temptation to take the path of least resistance and keep moving forward. I have felt many trials this week and I have really needed to reanimate myself. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf. I can always feel them when I need them most.
I was talking with my companion about it and I eventually realized that even prophets and apostles in the scriptures were discouraged at times. I guess I shouldn't´t feel so bad after all. These men were always comforted in there struggles. I frequently think on the message of Thomas S. Monson from the last General Conference when he said ´´be of good cheer, your future is as bright as your faith´´
As missionaries and as members of the church, we must always be the example of the believers. We must always be the ones to uplift and strengthen the hands that hang down. For all of my life, I have been amongst people who have helped me, who have strengthened me and have been the example of the faithful. Now it is my turn. I cant look around for strength from anyone else because I should be the one offering strength. The members here look up to the missionaries. I cant be unanimated. It is a weakness that I am working on and that I hope each one of us is too.
It sounds like the family is doing well though...thanks for the update. It helps me to know what everyone is doing and how they are doing. I always think of Landon and Tyler when I see kids of the same ages here. But none are as cute... =) Oh, and Joy, I think Tyler looks like you!
I guess the Moon Terrace house (and others like it) could be the Russell family version of Zion´s Camp. We always pass through times of uncertainty and trial, many times not knowing why we suffer. The point is, I think sometimes God tries us without worrying about the challenge. What the Lord is concerned with is how we dealt with the challenge.
Dad, You´ll pleased to hear that I was given a surprise this last Sunday from the second counselor in the Bishopric...a copy of the Church news with a report on all of the service projects happening in Oregon. I thought that was neat. I was so proud of you and of all of the Oregonians. Joy and Josh, I cant say enough how much I admire your young and growing family. It is truly special. Keep it up. Troy, I will let you have your Med School experiences, thank you. I don't want any of that right now. Ha ha. Tyler, good luck with moving apartments, and I hope that your roommates work out well for you. Enjoy this year, you wont be at BYU forever even though sometimes it feels that way. Sean, I am still really excited for you. I cant wait to hear of your adventures and such at the best university in the world.
So things I saw that were different this week...
Those motos that people ride in, well people will tow about anything behind or inside of them too. I saw a full fledge door in one this week and it was downright hilarious to see the cargo was twice the size of the thing carrying it. Also people will carrying 20 feet of tubing in those things. And I think we fit 8 or 9 people in one this week too.
I am starting to understand or at least recognize some cultural differences in the adults here too. I think it is hilarious how the adult women just don't take no for an answer. In many ways, Nicaragua is a matriarchal society. I can feel it ha ha. The woman that we live with is very forward and never seems to think she is wrong about anything. I have been having some digestive problems...normal, don't worry...and she seems to have a different remedy every day to cure it. Drink this, avoid that, it is a Parasite, it was for sure that cake thing you ate last night...ha ha.
Anyway, that is about as much as I can remember right now, but I will call it a week.
I love you all and remember that you always have a special someone in Nicaragua who thinks about you all daily. May the Lord bless you as He blesses me daily.
P.S. Mom, do you know if you got the scholarship from BYU? I think they said around mid July the results would be posted...maybe you could look at my account and see. Thanks.