Greetings and Salutations everyone!
The last week went very well for my companion Elder Avila and I. We spent a ton of time finding references from members and we found several new families to teach. One of the sweetest experiences in the mission is to realize that God has prepared people for me to teach and that upon teaching them they feel the truthfulness of the gospel begin to burn within their hearts. One of the many experiences that we had was finding a family Tuesday with Brother Robles and Brother Maradiaga. We met the family in the twilight and talked for a few moments about the experiences that they had had previously with the missionaries. The two youngest sons are members but have been inactive for some time. As we talked about how the gospel has blessed our families, I was so touched and I testified that my family had been greatly blessed through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This week I had so many chances to share that testimony and I feel that it touches the families greatly in the lessons. I always show them pictures of our family and they comment about how happy we all look.
I told the family that God had been preparing them for our message and if they would just open their hearts and listen they would be able to be blessed like my family. We later returned and found the family more positive. We talked with the father about his many struggles and we found that he wanted to change. We explained the Book of Mormon and upon meeting the wife later, we talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it helps us to resolve family problems. As we finished the lesson, the spirit prompted me to invite them to be baptized and the father accepted right off. The mother was a little more hesitant but she said she would pray about it. I don’t really know how to explain it, but there are so many times (even daily) that the spirit just shows me what to say. I find myself using connections and relating scriptures with principles that I have never even studied and then to my amazement, I see the investigators understand. I know that it isn’t me. I praise the Lord for His wisdom and I thank Him for using me as an instrument. I never thought I would be able to teach that way. I am so grateful.
So had a marriage as well for an investigator that is going to get baptized the following Saturday. I am excited about our investigators´ progress and I hope to be able to baptize several families this month. This last week we also had a conference with President Fraatz and I am so grateful for his leadership and spirit. He inspires me to be better. I often receive confirmations that what he says is inspired and exactly what we need to do in Nicaragua so that the church can grow. I liked what he said about making a change that day. He said that we should try to have a changing point in our mission, a point where we could say that everything was different after. I think I am starting that point in my mission. It usually happens around 6 months. I just didn´t expect the changes I got (if expecting changes is even possible anyway…) Let´s just say that this
Monday wasn´t the most relaxing P-day I have had…
At 11 AM I was on my way to eat lunch with my District Leader when suddenly he passed his phone to me. The Zone Leader wanted to talk to me. I asked him what he wanted and he said that I had emergency changes: I was to report at the office with my things in 2 hours and I was being reassigned to Matagalpa. Wow! I was shocked. I didn´t talk the whole bus ride home. It was a time of reflection and pondering. I realized that I would have to leave my area and all of my recent converts from the last 6 months. I knew the day would eventually come but I just thought I was going to have another few weeks to prep for it. My thoughts turned to the families that I had taught and I was sentimental. I love them. It was hard to leave. There is a special connection between a missionary and his recent converts. Each is different and has specific needs and desires but there is a God given love and charity that develops as the conversion process takes place. I only said goodbye to the Narvaez and Sanchez families for time restraints. I felt so much thanks but so much pain to say good bye. I said I would only see them later. In parting, the family prayed for me and I was touched as they said things like: ´´bless this young missionary and servant of thee so that he might find other hearts and touch other lives like he has touched ours. Bless the people and open the doors wherever he might serve in the future so that they might receive the same blessings that we have received. We are forever grateful for the change that has come over our family.´´ I was touched.
It was a long and strange bus ride to Matagalpa. The climate is cooler and the people are different. It is very beautiful. They are very friendly and open to hearing about the gospel but surprisingly, it seems like many people have heard about the church here. I am now assigned to the Guanuca Branch in the Matagapla district. It is an exciting and stressful time in Matagalpa as the President has his sights on making our District a Stake. It is critical right now so that Nicaragua can qualify for a temple (maybe even in Matagapla.) Elder Polanco, from Guatemala is my companion and he only has 3 weeks in Nicaragua. He was only with his trainer for 3 weeks and so it is basically my responsibility to train him. He doesn’t know all of the members yet and has trouble remembering things because he has some slight mental handicaps due to previous accidents. I am also a District Leader now and have to learn those responsibilities. If you get the picture, I have many opportunities to learn and grow and I am definitely relying on the Lord in this time of serious change and added responsibility.
Although I feel lost and I have a stress level that is about at its limits, I know the Lord will continue to bless me as He has in the past. I know that He lives and that He loves each and everyone of us. I am so grateful for the experiences that He gives me to serve Him and I pray for patience and strength to bear the burdens He has placed upon me. I ask for your prayers so that we can have success in this area. I so much want and desire a temple here in Nicaragua and I know how much it would bless the people here.
Thank you so much for your prayers and for your example. If I could ask something in this Christmas season, perhaps it would be that you just all continue sharing the gospel message with everyone. Everyone talks about the birth of Jesus Christ during this season but perhaps an even greater message is the reason for which He was born. I know that in and through Him we can receive salvation and that He is the only way to obtain happiness and joy in this life. If the purpose of Christmas is to spread peace and happiness on earth, lets do it through the spreading of the gospel message. I will do my part.
May God be with you always,
Elder Grant Russell
P.S. I think I will have a preliminary call to set up the call for Christmas. I don’t know if it is on Christmas day or if it is another day. Maybe they will give us options. If that is the case, what day to you prefer? The cost here to call internationally to the US is about 5 cordobas a minute (about 25 cents a minute). I think that would be cheapest if I just called you but if there is a cheaper way just let me know. If you haven’t sent the package yet, I only request a USB and perhaps a few CDs that I could use to save pictures on because my memory card is full at the present. Ties are always accepted haha. Thanks everyone and I look forward to talking to you soon. Cya.