Monday, April 26, 2010

The Plan of Happiness........week 50

Jumping for Joy

You all look like you had a fun week…paragliding and all. Wow...I am glad that everyone had a good time. I see that the graduation went well. Congrats Tyler for stickin it out and you finally wont have to worry about homework so much.

As for Nicaragua, it has been a little bit sweaty. We reached some pretty high temperatures this week but that doesn´t stop us from working hard. The President talked with us this week about Repentance and we are working with the Zone right now to complete the goals they have set. We had a few interesting happenings this week. About 50 future missionaries from the coast came for preparation for their calls. They have time to have dental checkups from members from the States giving service. They also have firesides etc and we were in charge of caring for them in the mean time...housing them and all. We had some late nighters this week with the difficulty of finding members at the last minute who could help. In the end, everything has gone well.

Along with that subject, I got a surprise call from a friend back home who happened to be here in Nicaragua with the Dentists....Chase Moffat. Small world huh? He called me on the AP´s phone and we talked for about 5 minutes. What a small world in the church. I think I had a mom moment there ha ha.

Chase Moffat in Nicaragua? In Grant's mission...Surprise!

I have really felt a difference this week as I have come to repent of my weaknesses. I remember how the President talked about how repentance in one word is change. I thought about the things that are still hard for me and I decided to just change. I have realized that when I am completely obedient and faithful in completely with the goals, the Lord blesses me with the spirit and confidence that He is pleased with me. The President has always had high goals and so many times we have to raise our faith to meet those goals. I pray that I can continue to strengthen my faith.

I have an appreciation for the Plan of Salvation because this week I have realized how much peace the knowledge of this plan brings. What other church promises eternal families and has the power and plan to accomplish it. What other church teaches of the redemption of the dead and the clarity of the saving ordinances now. The Lord is so loving that He doesn´t want even one of His children to perish.

Mom, you are right when you say that in our family we have a lot to enjoy. I feel like our family is very blessed. I know that it is because we have put the Lord first and that we have strived to be obedient.

I can confidently say that the Lord is helping now to make necessary changes in my life. I can say that I am finding joy in the journey. I am more grateful for what He has given me and I am making needed adjustments in my life. I love who President Monson explained that in life there is nothing more constant than change. I know that in the change we learn and grow. I rejoice in the testimony that Bryon gave. I too join in the chorus saying that the mission is the best place. It is the MTC of Life. I am learning things here that shape my character and prepare my spirit for the future. I will continue to serve always. I love you all so much.

Elder Grant Russell

Monday, April 19, 2010

Clay in the Potter's hand........week 49

Precept upon precept. Line upon line. It is wonderful to receive the quiet guidance of the spirit in the mission to make the necessary changes in my life. I was having a few challenges at the beginning of this last week and I felt like the Lord was telling me that I had to change in several ways. I pondered and meditated and finally I prayed late into the night pleading with the Lord that He would help me to make changes.

I got up in the morning the next day and I felt like I had received direction, but it wasn't complete. Many times in life we receive only the "what" to the problem and not the "how". I still pondered about how I could resolve the problem now that I had pinpointed it. As I ate lunch that day, I began talking with a member of the Ward and in the end, he ended up giving me a whole bunch of advice about what I could change to be a better missionary. I realized that the Lord had answered my prayer through him. So I went forward with the goal in mind. But it wasn't the end of my pursuit to know what I wanted. I asked the Lord if the counsel I had received was true and if He accepted my plan. I felt it was right but He confirmed my desires in a way even more clear a few days later.

We had our multi zone conference with President Fraatz this week and he said so many things and I felt like they were directed to me exactly. I felt like precept upon precept the Lord had led me to receive my revelation. I have to come to know better how the Lord answers prayers and gives revelation. He gives a Little and then waits to see if we act. If we act, He trusts us with the answer. If we are faithful in making the changes, He confirms the answer with a spiritual experience. That is why Moroni always talks about the miracle after the trial of our faith.

In that Multi zone conference, I felt a greater desire to change. The lessons about teaching and questions gave me further guidance about how I could be a better missionary. I was left to think about my mission and the things that I am accomplishing. The president has always told us that we will never achieve a higher obedience level in our life tan what we accomplish in the mission. He invited us to raise the bar and try harder to achieve a new level of obedience. He shared with us how in his mission the he worked himself like crazy and when he arrived at the temple after his mission he reported his offering to the Lord. Then he explained how he had Heard the voice of the Lord say to him 创now I will show you what I will do for you.创 The president is a great example of obedience and leadership and I pray that the Lord will find my service pleasing to Him as well.

I realize that I am not perfect and that the Lord is shaping me right now so that I can be a better leader in the future. I just hope and pray that He can say of my sacrifice in the mission, "well done." At the end of all things, I do what I do because I love the Lord.

We have been receiving many blessings this week with our family investigators and we brought two families to church this week. We hope to continue teaching them and then be able to help them be baptized. I thank the Lord for all that He gives me.

Thank you for your examples. I am so proud to know that you all serve the Lord. Tyler, congratulations and good luck in your graduation. I would love to be there. Sean, enjoy your last week at school and say goodbye to your friends at school. Keep in touch with them. They are friends forever if you keep them for now. Say hi to all of the family and you are in my prayers.

May the Lord guide you line upon line and precept upon precept in your lives. May you find joy in the journey and have an assurance of the Lord's acceptance of your sacrifice. May we all be able to say to the Lord, "I am clean, I am clean."

Elder Grant Russell

I got my package and everything was great! I am eating candy like crazy and I am excited that my piano books came too. The speakers work out perfectly and the medicine should last me for awhile. I have been using my new contacts from Dr. England and I think those will be the best choice. You can go ahead and order those. I will also need new contact solution (preferably the big bottle or two) and another Neutrogena 70 spf sunscreen. It helps me a ton to not get burned. It comes in a silver bottle and I use it every day. I have enough to last a Little while longer but I will wait for it in my next package.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Let's get ready and Go to Church"........week 48

I had a very spiritual weekend…I have learned a lot about myself and the Lord. I feel closer to Him. I am so grateful for His trust in me for allowing me help others in the way that I did.

Mom you asked about the weather…it has been hot! Here in Nicaragua the hottest time of year is in April and May so we will be trying to stay in there if you know what I mean. Despite the heat we have been trying to help out the zone this last week. With General Conference, we couldn´t baptize in the mission and the stress level has inched up a notch especially because many of our investigators went on vacation that weekend. It has kind of put a two week halt on the missionary work. So we are fighting to find new investigators and help the current investigators progress more. Another goal we have for this zone is to raise the attendance because the area authorities are very worried about it. We are going to have a visit in my Ward from Seventy Elder Clark in May to see how everything is…so we are getting prepared.

One activity that my companion and had been preparing was presented this Friday. It all went really well. It was a power point presentation about the Book of Mormon and the spirit was very strong. We added in a few of the short films the church makes from the conference talks and we focused the lesson on the importance of the Book of Mormon and continuous revelation. We had a strong spiritual witness that what we were teaching was true and throughout the preparation process I felt the guiding power of the spirit to make necessary changes. At the end, many people came up to ask for the presentation. I felt thrilled with the success.

As far as attendance in the Ward concerns, We have been prayerfully considering the families that we have in the Ward and we have been working with the Ward Council to help actívate a few families. The Bishop gave us several names and we have been visiting one family in particular, the Toruño Family. He is an ex counselor in the Bishopric and she is an ex missionary. They went inactive about 5 months ago and haven´t come back since for what the Bishop said concerning a few challenges in their callings. They were offended and it caused quite the uproar in the Ward. The attendance crashed and the members have had enmity towards them ever since. It was heart wrenching to feel of their hatred. We had visited the family before and had felt of their painful story. We tried to comfort them but they were always reluctant to forgive and forget.

As we stopped by Sunday morning to visit and invite them to church we found the small haircutting business open and the 80s music in the background. It was a hint as to their intention on going to church. We talked for a bit and they said that they were going to go another day. They didn´t have clean clothes and they have three small children. We continued to insist and then we began to talk about the blessings they would receive for their sacrifice. The mom began to cry and she once again shared her resentment for not having gone to church but expressed her desire for future forgiveness. I compared her hatred to a cáncer that would destroy everything.

At this time the father had already come out and he was participating the conversation. They talked together and began to put the goal for the following week. With a few more minutes they began to talk about going in the afternoon instead of the morning so as to evade the problems. Then I shared a heart filled testimony of how their actions would affect their children and their great grand children and that they had to stop thinking about themselves and make changes in their life. She knew that her absence in church hurt her and her family. I shared with her how her resentment and hatred for the Ward members and her continued absence would last for generations if they didn´t change. I bore my testimony of how my parents dedication and firmness in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy and led me to be an active member in the church and had helped me gain by experience the same testimony of that commandment. I told them that their obedience would help many others. We cried together. The love of the Savior filled the room and we were all edified. Then we witnessed the miracle. She lowered her head and said, ´´what are we sitting around for, we are just wasting time. let´s get ready and go to church.´´ They called the kids into the room and we had a family prayer. We left the house humbled and changed. We had truly witnessed a miracle.

We went to neighbor´s house to ask that she might greet them as they came to church. She had been offended by the family at one time and we invited her to get rid of her resentment and to give Sister Toruño a hug at church to make her feel loved. She agreed.

We started the church meeting on time and as the testimony meeting began the chapel was nearly filled. The was one pew empty and the Toruño family arrived just in time to fill it. As I stood in the doorway watching them come in in their White shirts and ties like a super active family, my heart filled with joy to see that an elderly woman from the Ward beat us to the greeting and had lept to her feet to give the family hugs and kisses. ¨I have been praying for this! I have been praying for this!´´ The whole congregation gave similar Greetings. In many testimonies the Ward members shared their gratitude for having returned and welcomed the family back into activity. It was the most spiritual sacrament meeting I have had in Nicaragua. All the testimonies had talked about Christ, forgiveness, love and we all left a Little bit better people. I greeted the Toruño family after the meeting and they gave me warm smiles. ´´Thanks Elder. We needed this. We needed a visit like that. Now we would like to thank your parents for their example. Their example has helped people here in Nicaragua.´´ ´´That is so true and they never thought that they would help people here because of it. Just imagine the impact your three Little future missionaries could have on the world for your decisión to come today.´´ We hugged. We hugged several times that day.

When we come to understand the worth of the souls of God´s children, we rejoice to see even the slightest change for better in character and behavior. We always learn like that…precept upon precept and line upon line. I felt so blessed yesterday and I know that the Lord was happy with their decisión. Great is the joy in the Heavens when save it be one soul repents. I have felt that Godly joy.

Let us love our brothers and sisters and help them live the góspel of Jesus Christ. This church helps us complete with our family responsibilities as they said in conference. We have quite the family to help here in this big world. Let´s lift where we stand.

Elder Grant Russell

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shall we not go forth in so great a cause?........week 47

After such a spiritual weekend, I don't know what more I could say to help add to your faith. I have been pondering over the themes from conference and I am always amazed to see how the talks coincide and we end up having the same goal and mind. That is what Christ teaches us in Ephesians, that He established the church so that we could all have the same faith and understanding of Christ. I think as the members of the worldwide church put in practice the teachings they heard this conference, we will be able to overcome many challenges.

I was particularly impressed by Elder Uchdorf´s talk about patience. I think He was talking to all of us. I liked how he said that it is impossible to gain eternal life and become like our Heavenly Father without it. In the mission so many things have helped me to build my patience: the members, my companions, my areas, myself. I have learned that Patience truly is a Godly characteristic and that we have acquire it by faith and obedience. Like Paul said, we have to seek after the things that are praiseworthy and of good report. I think we could all do well by trying to be a Little more patient.

I liked how the vast majority of the talks focused on families and how to teach our children. I like to apply these talks to my investigators. I have felt a great desire to build up my teaching in the last few weeks. My companion has more time than me in the mission ( the first time in 6 months) and so I have learned more from him. I am grateful for that. I hope to improve and am beginning again my study of the Book of Mormon and my lesson plans.

We had some difficulties with a few investigators this week. We last Sunday night at one man´s house to teach him and see how he had liked church. When we were there he was super excited. But over the course of 3 short days his reception of us had changed completely. We arrived Wednesday expecting to have a warm welcome and a list of questions to answer. We ended up only leaving with the questions, carefully written and scripted on a small piece of notebook paper and he didn´t receive us in the house. What he said instead was that he didn´t believe in our doctrine anymore. What a shock it was to us! We left a Little disanimated and disheartened but we continued to work. The mission is like that sometimes.

We continue to pray for him and the other investigators that we have. I ask that we might all ponder over the things that we heard in conference. Then I ask that we might ponder on the mercy of our God from the beginning as Moroni instructed. Then I would have you ask the question, ´´Shall we not go forth in so great a cause?´´ I am so grateful to Him for giving me this opportunity. I know that He lives and directs this work. He blesses us according to our faith.

Elder Grant Russell