Monday, January 25, 2010

Messages from Matagalpa........week 37

Hey there family

It was quite the week in Matagalpa. We have been busy and it turns out that the work was all worth it! This week we had physical and emotional challenges but we were able to keep on moving and the Lord really blessed us. I got sick on Wednesday and had several days outside my area but we were able to prepare for the visit from Elder Duartes.

Sunday morning was pretty crazy. I don't know if I have told you about how it is in the morning Sundays. At 4:30 am we wake up so that we can be showered, ready and knocking on the Ward Missionary Leader´s door before 6:00 am. We leave with Ward members to invite other people to church and we try to get them all there at 8:00am. We arrive at church all sweaty and tired but ready to here spiritual messages. That can be pretty difficult for a family of 8 without wáter or food that lives 20 minutes walk from the church, but it happens every week. It is quite amazing to see the faith here.

We had a last minute choir and I helped accompany on the piano. I kind of just made up stuff but it ended up sounding good. Elder Duartes told me to you thank you mom. He told me to thank you for obligating me for all those years to practice. He said that the spirit had entered the room that it would serve me for years to come.

The whole zone had success this weekend at the authorities said that we had achieved miracles here. We are still awaiting the news to see if we are going to have a stake or not. We hope so because it is a huge step forward to have a temple in Nicaragua. The members suffer so much to go to the temple. 17 hours in the bus with few stops and they have to pay a ton of Money too. We had a meeting with all of the priesthood holders from Matagalpa and Elder Duartes talked to them. He told us and commended us to work as hard as we could to make it all happen. He said we should be like the race horses. Race horses have a clothe over their head that specially covers their eyes so that they cant see their surroundings- that way they can just focus on the goal. I liked that. I have committed myself to keep more focused.

If there is one thing that the mission is teaching me it is that we should be anxiously engaged in the work of the kingdom. I was active before the mission but I wasn´t actively engaged. I want to search for opportunities to serve. I want to do all that I can to help the Lord in His great work. I am going to visit people until I drop.

I know that this church is true. I know it. I am just sure of it! I can feel it in every fiber of my being and I can see it in the eyes of so many members here who are true disciples of Jesus Christ. It is hard for youth to get to church let alone leave their houses in Nicaraguan´s heat at mid-day to visit with a whole bunch of less active members with missionaries. But that is a daily occurrence in Nicaragua.

May the Lord bless you all.

Elder Grant Russell

After thoughts…

I didn´t know that Rachel got a mission call, where? Give congrats to Alan. That is great! Tell Sean that I am proud of him for his desire to serve.

I don't know if I can ask a few things for the next package. If you could send me a few piano songs or sheet music from my list of stuff there. Maybe even one book would be enough.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Continued Miracles in Matagalpa........week 36

Buenos Días familia de Matagalpa!

We have truly seen miracles here in Matagalpa. This week was one of the greatest weeks of my mission I think. I feel like I have a spiritual high despite the challenges and difficulties we have been having.

Monday we spent the majority of our Pday working planning for a mini MTC in our District. The youth in Matagalpa participated and helped us all weekend with the missionary work. They had name tags and all and they even had classes and instruction by missionaries and return missionaries. It turned out to be a very good experience for them…but it sure was frantic this week planning for it.

With that activity and a trip to Managua Thursday, we lost a lot of precious time with the investigators. But we tried to make it up. We have continued to talk to Jose Omar about baptism and he is getting closer to his baptismal date. He has had some difficulties with the word of wisdom and the law but we are helping him so that he can receive a remission of his sins. We also continue to work with a lot of less active families. We talked with one less active family this week about the church and they ended up coming this weekend along with several others that had not come in years. It was such a joy to see them in church, enjoying the messages and feasting on the word. I love missionary work.

This week we met a man named Edgar that had come to church previously. He really liked the meeting Sunday and we have already put a baptismal date with him. He has a few challenges with coffee like most Matagalpinos but nothing too big that the Lord cant handle. We should have two or so baptisms this week, finally haha.

We also met several new people this week as the spirit directed us to their houses. As I walked by one house this week, the spirit told me to contact the house. We found a man that had previously been taught by the missionaries and now we are teaching him and he is really interested. That same day the spirit had directed us to the house of a less active and we found 6 new investigators there as well.

In our zone conference this week in Managua, I had a serious change come over me. In the mission I have been focused in every way. However, there was always something that was lacking. I hadn´t turned my heart over to the Lord yet. I was in two places at once. As the President talked about working with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, I pondered about my own service and what I wanted to get out of it. I repented of my weaknesses and I promised the Lord to work like He would have me do. I signed a contract, physically and spiritually with the Lord that I would work like a true disciple. Behind that contract you can see read the Fellowship of the Unashamed and can see a picture of Jesus Christ. See the blogspot site of the mission…

I left that conference better and different. I really want to serve the Lord. I love Him.

Sunday we had a good attendance in church but the biggest miracle was that in the old church building that normally seats about 100 there were 160. The mission president was in the meeting and he announced a new chapel for the members there after 37 years. It was an emotional and monumental day for the members in Matagalpa. We ask for your prayers and all the family´s prayers this weekend as 2 area seventies come to evaluate the church here and see if it is ready to be a stake. I am kind of nervous but we are preparing well.

I am so grateful for all of you and I hope that the Lord continues to bless you for all that you do.

P.S. Got my package. Thanks. Liked the candy but now I have a headache. ha ha. My companion was thrilled.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another week goes by with more learning........week 35

A week of uplifted spirits!

I have peaked over a time in my mission. I am now feeling more able to cope with the day to day struggles without complaining and I find myself with more patience than before, at least until it is tried ha ha.

It has been quite the week with the investigators this week. We were fighting like crazy to baptize this week and well I think our efforts with prove to be worthwhile in the future. We have two investigators that are nearing their baptisms but they have quite the circumstance. I told the mission president that I felt like a psychologist this week working with the couples. Both of our possibilities have to get married before baptism and so we began the convincing process. Sometimes we aren´t so convincing... But I had some great spiritual experiences as the spirit taught me how to teach the investigators.

Jose has lived with his girlfriend for about 4 years now. He has a 2 year old and a little one on the way. He is really excited about baptism and wants to do it soon but she isn´t so sure about the marriage commitment having fought with him only a few weeks ago. At one point we talked about how sin doesn´t only affect us but how it affects our Savior Jesus Christ in that adds to His suffering in the Garden. I related to her the experience of how upon finding the adulterous woman, Christ said that he without sin could cast the first stone. I then ironically applied the experience putting us as the person about to throw the stone. Instead of a sinless person throwing the stone at a sinner, we (being the sinners) throw stones at Christ, He being the only sinless man to ever live. It is painful to me to think about how for years a couple can commit something so painful for the Savior. It is because of that He shed from every pore for us. I placed a rock in her hands and told her to do what she wanted with it.

This week I found that it was a good learning week with my companion. He has been struggling with the mission thinking about home and everything. He at times has expressed desires to return home but I am determined to convince him to stay. Having mental problems and being a recent convert give him quite the challenge to overcome. But the Lord with help him.

Thanks for your support and prayers. The work is great and marvelous. It truly is the work of the Lord and I can see His hand working miracles.

Elder Grant Russell

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010 Everyone!........week 34


About everyone is happy that the new year has come around and I am a caught off guard that the holidays have already come and gone. It is the time of year that I just feel so happy and I guess in the thick of the work I couldn't even think about all the things that have been happening here and there. But thanks for keeping me posted and all. It helps me feel closet to home to receive a letter every week.

As I think about the changes that I have had in the last year I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father. I realize that I have changed in monumental ways in the last 8 months even though I feel the same from time to time. My thoughts are more focused on the work and I am a missionary in every waking and dreaming moment. I feel blessed to have been able to help so many people this last year and I hope that this year will bring continued success.

New Years Eve was a bit different this time around. We had the typical fireworks and all but there were a few added features: piñatas, “nacatamales” (a typical Nicaraguan dish that tastes like enchiladas but doesn't have tortillas and is about the same consistency of mashed potatoes, and a whole load of drunk people in the streets. It made for quite the event. The misión gave us permission to stay up until 12 so we got enjoy the fireworks in the streets.

This last week has a been a good week for me to ponder and pray. I have realized that I need to make many changes in my life. As we start this new year, I too have been thinking about improvement and there is so much room for it. This year I have decided to focus more on study and prayer. I have decided to be obedient in Word and in Spirit and I want to fight to have good relationships with all of my companions. I know that these goals will help me to be the missionary that the Lord wants me to be.

This Sunday was special being the first of the year and the chance for members to bear their testimonies. As you know, we have been working with a ton of less active members and investigators. One of the greatest joys I have felt in the misión was to see the newly reactivated members stand up to bear their testimony and thank the members and missionaries for their help. I thanked the Lord for guiding us in our visits.

The spiritual experiences with less active members continue to come. I find myself surprised with the words I say and the doctrine I teach. Then I realize that it isn't me. We met one family this week Saturday night. We were about to visit another family when suddenly I received the impression that we needed to visit that family. Not even knowing the family, I met them and after talking briefly with them we realized that the Lord had directed us to their house. During the lesson they told us that they had been thinking of coming to church the next day. (people don't think things like that after more than a year without going) It was a tender mercy of the Lord. But that was just one of many experiences.

I am gaining such an appreciation for the Home Teaching program now because in our Branch (and district) it doesn't really exist. I know what things it could do for the people.

The parable of the lost sheep has really come to be one of my favorite parables. I know that God really does love his lost children and I can feel so much of His love as I testify to less active and inactive members about the truthfulness of the góspel.

I am thankful for your examples and prayers. Thank you for teaching me the true doctrine of Christ in the home. I was perhaps not prepared for many things in the mission, but I was well prepared in my understanding of the góspel and in my love for the Savior. Those things have been foundations here for me that have only been strengthened, not created. They were well formed because I received great teaching from a loving family. Thank you for being who you are and always being faithful in the church. I pray for you and I hope the Lord blesses all of you. May your new year be full of new blessings, new challenges, and new opportunities to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what really matters after all.

Elder Grant Russell

PS I really like the Blog idea. Please post photos and letters and other comments so that my friends and family might be strengthened too. If you could make an announcement on facebook it might help as well. I am sorry for not sending photos for some time. I am trying to find a cyber that has the right plugs for my memory...still looking.