Wow it sounds like everything is going so well at home. Thanks everyone for your updates and thoughts on my behalf.
Everything is great here! We are really seeing the hand of the Lord in the work and I know He is directing us in our daily efforts. I am being obedient to the rules and striving to have the company of His Holy Spirit every day. I can testify that the Spirit really can accompany us always for I can feel the whisperings of the spirit throughout the day. May we always yearn and seek His spirit. Life is lonely without it.
This week we focused our efforts on our baptisms and we prepared and baptized 5 this week! It was really exciting but stressful too. We had so many people to help that sometimes it was overwhelming. I find that the stress in the mission is different than any other that I have experienced before because I cant always control what will happen. Stress in school, etc is contrable because you can just work harder and give up some things to make the grade, but in the mission, the investigators have their agency and that can create some problems for us. But we helped each person and answered their questions and doubts so that they could feel comfortable with the baptism.
Pablo and his son Steven were baptized and Pablo was married the same day too. He had so many struggles in his teaching but always exercised the faith to move on. Truly the following quote is true:
Faith is the power, Obedience is the Price, Love is the motive, the spirit is the key and Christ is the reason. I have seen this in my life.
I have a whole bunch of photos but I will send them next week. We also were able to locate, talk to, and baptize Auxiliadora who was scheduled to be baptized last week. She is a simple woman without much education. She cant read or write and has many challenges in her life. But I will never forget what she said as we left the baptism Saturday: Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you. I feel so happy! The greatest blessing a missionary can have is the gratitude of an investigator and to see their desire to serve in the church and be faithful to the end.
Along with Pablo, Steven, and Auxiliadora, Marioni and Sidney were baptized this week. They are Nieces of Sister Maria Elena, who is probably one of the best member missionaries I have ever seen. They have simple testimonies but they desire to change and I pray that they will be able to continue in the faith.
This week we also had Stake Conference. It was kind of crazy because we had to confirm all of the 5 baptisms after the conference, but we were able to get it all done. The speakers touched on some points that are really important. I really liked a talk given by the first counselor in the stake presidency. He told a story about Japanese culture. The people of Japan like eat their fish fresh but in recent years, they haven't been able to locate as many fish. They began to artificially put fish in ponds and tanks for the people toe at but over time the people complained that the flavor wasn't the same. Perhaps because the fish were protected and somewhat lazy the taste was lost over time. To solve this problem, the people placed a few sharks in the cages and the taste was recovered.
He explained that many times God places trials in our life so that we can remain spiritually alive and strong. That we are always better when we are humble amidst trials is a fact of life. I find that as a missionary, I constantly have trials and struggles with my companion, investigators, members, etc but that it is in the trials that I learn and grow.
I am at a time in the mission where I don't feel new but I don't feel old either. I have Little experience but Satan still Works hard so that I don't accomplish what I have been sent here to do. It is in these times that we must pray harder, more fervently and read the scriptures with more faith. I am so grateful for the mission and for the things I am learning. I know the church is true and that God really does love all of us.
As I lifted each of those baptisms out of the wáter Saturday, I felt the love of God around me and I knew that I was doing His work. I am so grateful for that opportunity.
May God bless you and guide you in all that you do.
Elder Grant Russell
P.S. We only get packages the week of changes or the first week(in two weeks) and the weeks of Multi Zone Conferences (usually the second week). The packages usually take 2 weeks from what I have Heard so if it is in the mail right now I should get it the week of changes. Thanks by the way and I look forward to it!
PPS Please say to the family for me and thanks to all who have written and I promise to write next week. I was just a Little stretched for time today.
PPPS My companion is from Nueva Luarca Ward which is right next to the airport in the capital.