Hello to everyone from Nicaragua!
It has been a crazy week here in the office. We were busy all week with a visit from Elder Falabella of the Presidency of Central America. He came Monday and left Friday and we were busy all day long every day with conferences and every behind the scenes. It makes me appreciate all of the work that goes on behind General Conference, Stake Activities, etc because when you have to plan something this big, it requires a lot of effort. We had another week without much time in the area but the Lord continues to bless us outside the office for the work we do inside the office. We had two baptisms and the office in total baptized 7 for the week and it was a great experience.
I was particularly impressed by Elder Falabella’s teachings in the conference about the atonement of Jesus Christ. He talked about “the why” behind missionary work. As missionaries, we sometimes get so focused on numbers, teaching lessons, baptizing, church attendance, etc that we forget why we are here. He explained that our biggest desire to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ should come from our inner testimony of the atonement knowing that NOT EVEN ONE of God’s children can be saved from their awful state without it. We do it out of love for Him and appreciation for His atonement.
Joseph Smith said it like this, ““A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race”
As disciples of Him who only showed love, true love, we must reach out to others to help them come back. We offer them an inner peace and happiness. It is attainable only through our message of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and receiving the holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I am so grateful that our Father in Heaven has permitted me to be in this mission. I feel like it is everything I could have ever hoped for it to be and more. The experiences are endless the testimony building experiences daily. I love the mission!
Today Rolando and Orquiedia were baptized. They have a neat story. They have been coming to church now for almost 3 months. They haven’t missed a Sunday. They hadn’t been baptized up until now because he had to get divorced before they could get married. Finally everything worked out. I am amazed at their sacrifice. They have paid tithing. They have fasted and prayed and given offerings. They have participated in service at the church by cutting down long overgrowth in front and Rolando even went a few times when no one else was there to keep up with the work. They are faithful saints. Not to mention that they make the thirty minute walk to church one way every Sunday and every time we baptize on Saturday. I don’t think there have been more than one or two baptisms in the three months now in the office that I have where they haven’t been there. Yet she doesn’t know how to read and he stumbles over the words. Their testimonies are strong and their faith shows it. I have felt like I am in the presence of Kings in their humble home.
Wilman was also baptized and he is so excited to be a member. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and wants to know more about the doctrine. He will be a future missionary for sure. I am amazed at his progress.
I continue to stand all amazed at the power of the Atonement. It changes us. It makes us better. I don’t know how Jesus Christ was able to suffer for my own sins and all of those which have ever been committed. I can’t understand it. But I appreciate it. I have felt the cleansing power of the atonement. I feel like everyday He gives me more understanding of how this extraordinary act can help me. I trust Him. I know He lives. I believe that He can help me, change me, forgive me. Little by little, I hope to be more like Him. It is a process but He helps us along the way.
Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for your support and prayers and love. I feel the support across the miles. May our Heavenly Father always bless you with His spirit and may we bless the lives of others as He blesses our lives daily.
Elder Grant Russell
Dad, happy birthday this week! I am continually strengthened by your faithful service to and love for our Savior Jesus Christ. You have been a role model in my life and I strive to be more like you, my father. I wear my name tag with pride because it only has great names: Jesus Christ and Russell. I wish you the best and I hope that you can have a wonderful time on this special day. Maybe forget the diet for one day and celebrate...have cake or something. I miss the gardening and shed building "bonding time." Don’t worry, we will have plenty of that in the future. I love you Dad. Thanks for everything.
Grandma! I am so happy to know that you have another birthday coming. I am sad I can't be there to celebrate it with you all but I sure do wish you the best. Your conversion story has blessed many lives here in Nicaragua and you continue to be living example of how the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families. Thank you for all that you do and for all that you ever taught my parents and me. Have a great day and save me some cake okay!