Monday, June 22, 2009

Buenos....from Nicaragua........week 6

So hey there family! I really feel like I was just writing you all a few days ago...this week was a blur. I will fill you in a bit.

So we have a pretty consistent schedule as far as the week goes. Mondays are P-days and we get together in Altagracia as a zone to write letters and release some energy in non-competitive, sporting activities. wink wink. We also do FHE with less active and recent convert families.

Tuesday mornings we get together in Altagracia and have zone meeting and companionship study.

Wednesdays are just a normal day but we get together with the Bishop in the evening to discuss missionary work etc.

Thursdays we meet in Altagracia yet again for district meeting and weekly planning.

Fridays and Saturdays are normal.

Sundays we get together in the morning with the ward mission leader and missionaries to do what they call the Mormon Battalion. We visit less actives, inactives, and recent converts to animate them for church and teach a short lesson. It is pretty neat. I like it really but it is different than anything I have ever done on a Saturday morning. We are really busy and put in a lot of effort Sunday morning but it does produce some results. So it is worth it!

But this past week we also had a Multi-Zone Conference with the President and 5 or so zones over all of Nicaragua on Wednesday. It was really great! I learned a ton and I need to work harder. I think I always come out of those meetings feeling like I need to repent but also energized and ready to serve the Lord harder. So it was this last week.

I had some really good experiences with the Spirit this last week, but I also had some challenges. Satan...he definitely has his eyes on the missionaries and their efforts.

We have been working with the father of a part member family who has a problem smoking. He has great intentions to stop but he just can´t seem to go a day without smoking. We have animated him every night it seems like but he just falls the next afternoon. We are going to continue working with him. I just see so much potential in that young family. In one lesson with that family this last week I was reading a scripture and then suddenly an idea popped into my head. I was reading about how when Christ called his Apostles, they instantly left their nets and boats and families to serve the lord. The word for fisherman in Spanish is pescadores and I thought, ¨by taking out the s, the word becomes pecadores which in Spanish means sinners. So in reality, we could relate the way that the Apostles left their nets to the way sinners must leave their vices and other distractions that are keeping them from following the savior. We must leave them immediately. Pretty cool huh?

I also had other experiences with the Spirit where I just felt like I was saying exactly what the family needed to hear. I love being a missionary because I at times throughout the week feel the love of God just fill me, and it emulates out to the investigators and members. I think I am starting to love the people. I am starting to love being a missionary, but I still have a lot to improve.

Our companionship is improving I think, but we still have challenges. I think my problem is that I have always put missionaries on this pedastool, especially trainers, and I expect them to just do everything perfect. But even my companion is human. I definitely am.

But like I said, we have had our fair share of challenges this week. We have had a hard time with our investigators because they aren´t keeping their commitments. We actually dropped one sister even though she knows all the answers to the questions. She just isn´t ready for baptism or at least she doesn´t think she is and doesn´t want to be. She just had to pray for an answer, but she wouldn´ is frustrating. Also, yesterday my companion said that during divisions our investigator with a baptismal date for this coming Saturday just said he doesn´t want anything to do with the church now. I was confused. We are going to visit him this week to see what his doubt is.

Yesterday, church was nearly a disaster because the Bishop left with all of the ward missionaries during sacrament for a reunion in another part of town. It was rather disruptive and to top that, the speaker offended some of our investigators and recent converts with a comment about noisy children and they stormed out of church. wasn´t pretty. Not to mention that our attendance dove like crazy yesterday. Satan is strong, no doubt about it.

I was actually relieved that our new investigating family didn´t show up yesterday because it wouldn´t have been a very good first impression. If I could change one thing in the church, it would be to straighten up the members. We work day after day with these investigators and commit them to come to church, they make changes in their lives, and then in one light comment, all of our work slips away. Either that or they come and no one says hello.

It sounds like things at home are going well. That is good to hear. I am so happy to hear that the house was sold, and so fast! I know it is definitely a blessing because of obedience. That is the only way we receive blessings after all.

Tell Sean to keep up the good work as a missionary. He is definitely going to be great! I always admired Sean´s ability to make friends so fast. I have a hard time just being myself in front of strangers. I normally have to ease them into knowing me ha ha. As for Troy´s comment, let him know that I feel like I have big shoes to fill after both he and Tyler served so honorably. I hear of their stories and I just hope similar experiences happen with me. Both Troy and Tyler have served as great examples to me of what return missionaries should be like. I am very grateful for their service, and for Dad´s. Happy Father´s Day by the way! And don´t give me too much credit, I haven't done much...

Tell Cassandra congratulations for me. That is great! I figured at least some of my friends would get married before I got back. Some were already engaged before I left!

Thanks for the encouragement from everyone! I definitely feel your prayers from across the miles. I frequently think on our family and the things that we did together over the years. In retrospect, I don't think I would want to change anything. I really love you guys and I feel so much pride to be a member of the Russell family. I have shown pictures of our family to investigators several times and they always comment on how happy we look. It is a happiness that only the gospel can bring.

And now, drum roll please....Cultural Experiences!!!! Confetti and party hats all around. (I think I am going to start a weekly list of things that I found hilarious or different...normally the two go together) lets see

Dogs here are like skeletons...and they are everywhere.
No one obeys the rules of the road. I think there are rules...
I frequently am packed so close to people in the buses here that I feel like a sardine.
Really a lot of funny things happen on the buses.
Today we had two clowns putting on a show on the bus. I think they called it poetry...รง
Our toilet doesn´t flush...we have to throw water into it and then it flushes.
My companion threw water into the toilet that also had his shirt inside. It wasn't so clean afterwards ha ha. HA ha. I laughed a lot after that. ha ha.
Water and other liquids come in bags and you bite the edge to drink.
I have rice with every meal...pretty much.
Street vendors sell about everything. I saw a guy selling motor oil. Ha ha. It is always funnier when you look back on it.
oh and pirated movies...there are a bunch of those.

Well I have to go. I love you all. I know the church is true. I learn more every day and my testimony continues to grow. Take care and I will talk to you all next week. Thanks to everyone who writes letters. Thank Bro Minor, who writes all the time. Please continue to post my letters and forward my letters to everyone that asks and anyone else that might want it. Brother Minor said he wanted to read. So I will talk to you later. Love you bye,

Elder Russell