Monday, October 26, 2009

Glad to be Wrong because God is always Right........week 24

It is a strength to always here from you! Thanks for you sacrifice in writing me every week and having your thoughts directed in my behalf daily. I can feel everyone´s strength.

The past week was a great one. We had several experiences and meetings that made it a singular week indeed.

Elder Falabella visited from the seventy this week and we had a meeting with him. He talked about several ways in which we could improve the work. I really loved what he taught about retention of the converts. He talked about getting them involved in the two types of missionary work: the earthy and the vicarious work. He said that as they would become involved in the work, the missionary spirit would affirm their testimonies and provide further experiences upon which they could be sustained in the future.

He also stressed the importance of our service. The mission in general is service, but even as is, it isn´t enough. We need to be aware of service opportunities. I was affected by this and I am trying to improve in this regard. As Christ taught, we must serve if we want to be great in the eyes of God. Furthermore, Elder Falabella taught us how we could better plan to help the investigators. He said setting goals and making plans was extremely important. He compared our work with the work of God and then asked us whether God had a plan…He definitely does. How could our Father in Heaven bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (a very big goal indeed) without a very detailed plan. I need to improve in that regard as well.

This week marked the end of the drought of baptisms! Hooray! I was getting a little discouraged without any…but so it ended. Paola was baptized on Saturday and it was very nice. She is a very enthusiastic woman who is always ready to serve us. Literally, she gives us food every time we visit with her! Whether it is soda and cookies, sandwiches, or something else we always leave the lessons with full stomachs and full hearts. She is great! She is the sister of a recent convert and we are continuing to teach her other siblings with hopes that they too can accept the gospel.

Baptism of Paola

We also had a great experience this week with an old investigator. Elder Menendez and I had taught a Catholic family several months back but in the confusion of changes, in both our companionship and their family (the daughter gave birth), we had stopped teaching them. About a week ago, a sister in the ward told us that she had talked with the family and they we interested in having us pass by again. My companion and I were a little sceptical having already visited the family and having left the last lesson with a less than comfortable atmosphere. However, after much contemplation and prayer, we decided to go back and see the family and I am very glad that we did.

We talked about many of their doubts such as the Virgin Mary, etc and when we left the lesson the spirit was there. They committed to come to church Sunday and when the day came, they came too! I was a little bit shocked and very humbled- I had been wrong in my judgement of the family and I was happy to be wrong. When we passed by later Sunday night and were welcomed in, I too was humbled. We visited with the leaders of the Branch so they could meet them and establish a friendship and trust and I am very excited about the progress. One of the major points that Elder Falabella talked about was baptizing families and in that small little house we are teaching two! I hope that God will continue to open their hearts to our message and that He will guide us in our words and thoughts so that they can understand.

This week has given me much strength and I pray that I can always be in tune with the spirit so that I do not my will but the will of my Father in Heaven. I know that God loves all of His children and that He prepares the way for them so that when they come in contact with the church, they can accept the message if they have an open heart. The family said that 5 years ago everything had changed and that when we had knocked on the door 3 months ago, we were the first ones they had permitted to enter. They were prepared for our message. What a blessing it is to be involved in the work of the Lord! I know He guides us! May He always guide you wherever you may be and I know He will lead you to higher heights. No matter what you have seen before, no matter how many spiritual experiences you have had, there is much more to see and experience. The vista is always better from higher ground. Go there!

In the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Grant Russell

PS I don't have my package in hand yet but I am pretty sure that it arrived in the office a few weeks ago. The office missionaries haven´t given it to me is the problem. I expect that this is the week…ha ha. I hope. For future reference, it takes probably around 4-6 weeks for me to get my package in my belonging (unless I get lucky with the timing). I don't know what you will send in future packages, but if you plan on sending any “perishable items” you will know what kinds you can send…ha ha.

Could you give me the address of Brynt Ross?
Pojo got his mission call? Where to?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prayer and the Empathy of the Savior........week 23

It began to rain just about an hour ago. I got wet. It is pretty normal this time of year.

Hey there family. It was nice to hear from all of you this week. I will fill you all in on my activities.

The past few weeks have been tough ones for our companionship in our area. I think my companion described the situation best when he said that after a month of fat cows, we are now suffering the thin, sickly ones. We have been passing through a drought in new investigators and progressing investigators. Our faith is being tried in new ways. We are growing because of it.
I find such strength on my knees. I think the mission has taught me how to rely on the Lord, have true faith and pray with all my heart. I receive solace in the scriptures and God speaks to me in simple yet powerful ways as I read the words of the prophets. I love to have communication with God. He really does speak with His children. We many times just aren´t listening.

But we have had such great experiences this last week as well. We began teaching a new investigator named Paola. She is the older sister of a recent convert in the Branch and she is very enthusiastic. She accepted a baptismal date for this week and so finally our drought will end. I see such joy and excitement in her character. Faith, she has a lot of that too. She drank a ton of coffee before, but upon learning that it was harmful and prohibited by God, she has given it up. As we have talked with her, we have come to know her sweet spirit and love her contagious laugh. She is reading, memorizing and preparing really well for the baptism this week and I am excited and confident that she will be a strong member in the church.

Idalia is also progressing. She accepted to be baptized as well and despite heavy pressure from her highly Adventist husband, has continued to receive us with open arms and a open heart. She prayed about the messages and has received a sure witness from God that what we have taught is true. This last week we had a lesson about the organization of the church and although she was slow to accept that we had a living prophet, began to understand and said she would pray.
We have been working really hard to involve the members in the missionary work, allowing them to catch the fire again that they felt upon baptism. We also are very interested in having each person fulfill their responsibilities of their ward callings. The members in Nicaragua are very young converts as a whole. They are very accustomed to see the missionaries doing everything. What we are trying to do right now is make the Branch more self sufficient because we wont always be able to do everything. The mission has also given me a strong testimony of the organization of the church. I can see how the Lord has inspired the organization so that not one member can be lost if we fulfill our duties. I was talking to the Elder´s quorum President, a recently returned missionary, and we both agreed that the Home Teaching program for example is the missionary work for members. If properly put in action, the recent converts would never have an excuse for falling away.

As I bore witness this week of the reality of the living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, I was assured that he indeed is called of God to direct this work. I know he is a prophet and that this church is led by divine revelation. He is God´s chosen mouthpiece and He does the and speaks the will of the Lord. I know that! I also know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it has a power beyond any other book I have read to bring me unto God and Christ. Christ lives and loves us! God is very aware of our needs.

As we talked with a recent convert this week, I could see the anguish in her countenance as she explained how her husband had fallen back into drinking after 6 months away. She said how she had thought it had passed for good. He had been given the priesthood. He had been baptized. She was stricken with grief at the news and worried sick that he would never come out of it again.
With quiet assurance, we promised her that God understood the circumstance and that she could find solace and peace in communicating with him. Tears streamed down her face as she received the witness that God really did understand, that he loved her. No greater love hath any man, than he layeth down his life for his friends. And God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son…that we having faith in his name could be saved by his sacrifice.

When it says in Alma that Christ suffered for our infirmities and pains and everything we would suffer, I know that it is true. As a witness of Jesus Christ, I know that he has felt the pain of every drop of blood and that He can succor us with an incomprehensible empathy. May we let Him help us is my prayer. In the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Grant Russell

Some current happenings in Nicaragua. My zone, my pets, my food...
enjoy as I am ha ha

Monday, October 12, 2009

We have spoken the Truth........week 22

Hello everyone from Las Colinas-Ticuantepe-La Borgoña
Yes, this week was transfers, and I am still here.
Well everyone, thanks for the love and support! I feel so strengthened and
uplifted by your thoughts, prayers and letters in my behalf.

A note about the letter you sent…thank you! It is such a blessing to know that
people are being strengthened by my letters and experiences. It is exactly what
I wanted for the mission. As missionaries, we live in a routine. We wake up, do
the exercise routine (many times with the temptation of going back to bed), we
say our prayers, put on the same tie, eat the same breakfast, and go out into
the world to preach the same góspel. Day to day, it can be hard because we feel
as if we haven't made a difference for anyone. Many times we don't receive a thank
you. Many times, I am grateful that I don't know the cuss words in Spanish
because I am pretty sure they fly out at me on a frequent basis between
Mormon”, “gringo”, “Americano”, etc. To hear that lives are being changed at
home by what I am doing here lifts my heart, raises my spirit, and gives me
faith to move on in the work of the Lord. Thank you so much.

Like I said, the work this week has been kind of tough. I am still learning
patience in all that I do. We have been able to find some really great, new
investigators but the problem is bringing to church. If they don't attend, they
can't be baptized. One of the biggest stresses in the mission is that we baptize.
When a mission baptizes like we do, a companionship should baptize too. And when
it doesn't happen…well, lets just say that it is ever present in our minds. But I
am having good experiences.

This week we had a meeting with the mission president. He invited us to do many
things, but the thing I remember most was his calling unto repentance. He said
that we could be assured blessings in the mission, in our future life,
occupation, family, and in the eternities if we would repent and turn our hearts
to God, giving up the things of the world and serving Him as He requires. I have
committed again to serve the Lord how He desires, and I pray that He will help me
now as He has helped me in the past.

This week we taught an 7th Day Adventist family. That is a first for me.
Naturally, their first doubt was going to be about the Sabbath day being Sunday
instead of Saturday, Saturday being Biblical. When we began to teach the lesson
and we used the typical scriptures. However, it appeared that they weren't so
convinced and we were left in a rut. I looked to my companion for support, he
having 23 months in the mission. It wasn't until after the lesson that he told me
he had never taught that lesson either. Whoops, ha ha.

But it went really well. I really was amazed at what came out of our mouths. I
find myself saying things in the mission that I never would have imagined. I
consider myself a Little passive and quiet when it comes to telling people that
they are wrong. So when words come out of my mouth like “if you don't want to
believe us, then don't pray. If you pray, you will be assured by the Holy Ghost
that what we have taught is true because we have spoken the truth. I know that
it is true and that you can know to.” (That was a watered down versión.)
We focus mainly on the Savior Jesus Christ throughout the message, showing in
the scriptures and by our testimonies the importance of the resurrection of
Christ, that if he hadn't risen from the dead, their would be no reason to
worship Him at all because we would all be doomed to the same fate. He showed
how the new “pact” of the practice of sacrifice was fulfilled with the
resurrection and that to remember the Lords sacrifice, we no longer would have
animal sacrifices but remember the ultímate blood sacrifice in Christ Jesus.

Many other things were said, but sufficeth it to say that the mother was
convinced. The father was speechless yet cynical. We told the mother to pray
about the message upon leaving and she said it wouldn't be necessary. She knew it
was true. She already knew.

I would like to just relate one more experience about teaching this week. We
talked with a super evangelical preacher this week and tried to convince him of
the divinity and power of the words of the prophets he had seen the pást weekend
in General Conference. He wasn't convinced because he said that the prophet spoke
plainly without much quoted scriptures and much eloquency. We were of a
different opinión. In short, we bore witness of the reality of his call as
prophet and showed how God uses the weak things of the world to bring about His
purposes. My companion asked how only 200 young missionaries between the ages of
19 and 21 could baptize 500 people monthly. We asked how many his church
baptized and it was a small number. Finally, he asked “why do you insist on
visiting people like me who don't want to believe.” My companion took this
opportunity to show the love of God saying, “ that is the difference between
your church and ours…our visión of the soul of a single person is great. We love
God and know that He loves every one of His children. We know that men can only
be saved through the ordinances we hold. We are led by the spirit. That is the

This Sunday, I witnessed the Priesthood Ordination of Carlos Salgado, a recent
convert of 4 months. He was ordained to the office of Elder and it was one of
the most special experiences I have had. When we arrived, we didn't want to
listen. He had hid from the missionaries. He was closed to the message, but now
he loves it. He was blind spiritually, but now he is a light to his family. He
was a heavy smoker. Now he is a priesthood holder that can bless his family in
every way. How great is God! How wonderful are his blessings! God is a God of
miracles because God has worked a miracle in the life of this man and in the
lives of so many others.

I would like to bear my testimony to all that can hear, read, feel this message.
That God lives! He loves me! He loves you! He Works miracles in our lives and
that he is intimately involved in the lives of His children. He doesn't want any
single child to be lost. His is so love that He sent His only begotten Son to
suffer for the sins of the world. Please remember to talk with Him. He awaits
your call!

May God bless you my friends and family!
Elder Grant Russell

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts from General Conference........week 21

Thoughts from General Conference...

Monday Oct 5, 2009

So family, another week and it was a great one! General conference was so
inspiring. I expect that everyone thinks so too.

This week we tried to focus on finding new investigators (and not only new
investigators but references from members) We actually had a good week in this
regard and were able to find many new investigators through the members. I
really have a testimony that the members are the best way to do missionary work.
They already have the required friend in the church…they only lack the teaching
and the responsibility. I find that many times the friend part is the most

This week as we contacted references, I was able to have a really good
experience. We began teaching a few investigators that had previously received
the discussions from missionaries about 2 years ago. It turns out that the
daughter is still reading the Book of Mormon and another daughter attended
church activities up until last Christmas. The mother is having some marital
problems because her husband is supposedly unfaithful. I find this humble family
ready for the gospel. I hope they can open up their hearts to the messages of
the Savior and experience the mighty change of heart requisite to remain
faithful servants of the Lord. I really liked that talk about changed hearts by
the way in Conference. Very powerful.

As we left that lesson, my companion began talking about how he felt he had met
that family before. It wasn't until then that I realized that I had been feeling
the same way. As a missionary, the spirit works with us in so many ways. I am
still a young and inexperienced missionary and servant of the lord and I have a
lot to learn. I learned about one more way that the spirit works in my life, and
it is through remembrances and feelings such as this. There was a point in the
lesson with them where I almost had a deja vu. I felt like i had been there
before and seen their faces. I expect that that feeling was what my companion
felt too. How great it is to be a missionary! How great it is to feel the
inspiration and guiding spirit of the Holy Ghost! We truly encounter people
every day and every minute that we have met before, we just don't remember it.
Conference gave me such a boost that I am now ready to work harder in the work
of the Master. Several talks were very powerful to me, including the talks about
writing spiritual impressions, the change of hearts, service, love, the Book of
Mormon by ELDER HOLLAND! and Elder Christofferson's talk about moral discipline.
The talk on temperance also stuck with me, that as we temper our spirits, we are
more willing to and capable to resist a higher impact. Elder Osguthorpe's talk on
teaching was very enlightening and I feel like I need to focus more on saving
lives than giving a speech. I should inspire. I should lift hearts. I should
show confidence. I should close the manual and open their eyes to the glory of
God. I too have been a product of great teaching. I too can say with Nephi that
I have been born of goodly parents.

Elder Bednar's talk about parent and child relationships in expressions of love,
etc helped me reflect on my own childhood experiences. Being away from home and
family life, one has time to ponder on the way that parents taught and how
effective their teaching was. I see troubled homes every day. I see parents lost
at how to educate and teach their children. I see children with hatred towards
their parents. I see terrible family relationships. I am so grateful for what I
was given, the parents that God elected for me (I say elected because they were
specifically chosen and they are elect in their obedience) and the brothers and
sister that I have had as a support all my life. I know that I am not perfect,
but I know that my parents have taught me in a way that helps me approach this
eternal goal.

I pray that you will always walk in the ways of the Lord. Strive to live and
apply what the prophets and apostles taught this past week end and I will do the

I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ. One cannot listen at the feet of
the prophets, hear their divinely inspired messages, and not know that they are
called of God and have His authority today, if he does so with an open heart.

Thank you for your prayers and love. Thank you for you thoughts on my behalf.

Thank you for your teaching, your kind words and your examples to all of the
world. I stand with Elder Uchtdorf and say that in the end, the one defining
characteristic of the only true church on Earth should be love. Love others.

Serve them. God will bless you all. Until next week. May God be with you always.

Elder Russell