Monday, December 29, 2014

Un-googleable facts about Peru

Wow!! I can´t believe I got to see my family in the flesh this Christmas! It was the best Christmas Gift ever!! You guys look so great. I have the absolute best family in the world.  I wanted to show run outside with the lap top and show everyone in Peru what a family is supposed to be!! Full of love and happiness and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ!! Families here are just not the same.  It’s really sad, but it makes me grateful for my family.  I am out here because I want people to have a family like ours.  Thanks for the support and all the love.  I can feel it all away over here in Abancay!   My Christmas was a wonderful normal day spent preaching the Gospel.  Every lesson we taught we read the Christmas Story in Luke and talked about Jesus´s life.  It was a very great Christmas and I had a lot of fun.  It didn´t feel exactly like a normal Christmas, but It was a good little change.   AS I talked to you guys I realized all the things I haven´t told you.  They are normal everyday occurrences here and as for now I will call them the Un-googleable facts about Abancay, (maybe Peru, but only time will tell).  So here is a list I have been collecting this weekend.    
1. Nursing in public is no big deal here,  nursing during lessons is also no big deal.    
2. They don´t have a lot of nice things, but their soccer fields are amazing!  Soph if you ever go on a mission pray that you won´t get called to South America because I am even tempted to join in a game once in a while.    
3. We don´t flush toilet paper ever here. ( I feel like you should know this one)    
4. There are a lots of random animals, unchained, in the streets. Dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, chows, ducks, chickens, horses.  Yah its Normal.    
5. They celebrate Christmas with a ton of fireworks and they stay up really late on Christmas Eve. They also don´t have Christmas trees but giant nativity scenes.  
6. They have Cambis here which is a little bigger than a van.  They seriously crowd so many people in and It’s really always an adventure taking one.  Also I am serious when I say this, it’s a real life Indiana Jones. Its nuts.    
7. There are no shower curtains here.    
8. When the garbage man comes, he plays a song and everyone runs out with their trash.  It’s like the ice cream man, just not as fun.    
9. No one, no one can sing here, and members really don´t know the tune to any song.  This fact leads into a hilarious story that happened in Church.  I will share details.    
10.  Lined paper literally doesn´t not exist here, or if it does I have not found it.  They use grid paper for everything.   
11. In the church we call everyone by their first name, with Hermana or Hermano in front.  I think it’s because everyone has the same last name.  

Alright that’s about it for the un-googleable facts about Peru.  I will always be thinking of more throughout the week to share, so look forward to that folks. :)    Well this weekend has been really really good.  We found and have started teaching an investigator named Carolina. She is 14 years old and has an adorable little brother Juan Carlos.  Picture should be included.  She is amazing and is reading the book of Mormon and she even drew a huge version of the Plan of Salvation and taped it to her house.  Juan loves pass along cards and every time we visit them we give him one and he literally glues it to the wall.  They came to Church this Sunday! It was so great to see them and Hna Holland and I went to Young Women’s with her.  She seemed really interested and excited.  During young womens we had a catastrophe with the opening song.  You have to Understand that they don´t have Pianos in every room here.  THAT IS SUCH A BLESSING! Anyways we sang a song and Hna Holland was asked to lead it.  We gringas didn´t know what song it was in English, so she tells everyone (there is about 7 people in young women’s including the leaders) to sing loud so we can learn the Tune. Anyways the song turns out to be one we sorta recognize but the words are even close to the same thing.  So I get the tune and so does Hna holland. But during the chorus it’s a little different ( We think they added something) But Hna Maria, the young women’s president is singing so loud and so off key that I cannot even follow along.  Every time the chorus comes she sings faster and wow It was probably the best thing I have ever experienced.  Her Daughter who is behind me and who has a hilarious personality, just starts to laugh.  Everyone should know me and should know that I just can´t hold it in either,  Wow everyone started chuckling and Hna Maria just continued to sing with all seriousness,  she seriously didn´t crack a smile. Best moment ever.    Anyways we visited Carolina after that and taught her the third lesson which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  WE also set a baptism date with her and so now we have a lot to do.  It’s very exciting though!  We are really hoping that we can get her ready by that time, but the pressure is on and now we will be visiting her almost every day!  I am really excited for her!    Also Yanet came to Church again!  Later we visited her and helped her with a personal progress activity.  We talked about the role of mothers and what we can do now to prepare.  I don´t think she was ever taught about that so it was really neat. We are going to be helping her now on with her personal progress.  Funny how the Lord knows exactly what you need, I guess it’s what I get for not embracing the program!  haha :)  Yanet is really warming up to us.  She is the only member in her family so we are trying to get her mom involved in the personal progress as well.   Also we are moving this week! Hopefully!! Our pension has built a room on the third floor.  Yesterday we decided we would try to throw candy up to the third floor.  It was absolutely hilarious.  Our pension came out and tried to throw candy up there too.  We were laughing our heads off and so were the workers. WE love our Pensions family. We have adopted them as our own and we can´t wait to live above them and avoid Mount Everest!    Well I honestly love being a missionary.  Each day I wake up and try to make it the best day of my life.  I don´t always succeed because I have had a pretty awesome life, but It helps me enjoy it. President Ferrell’s advice is now my motto.   “Repent every day and then progress”.  Don´t look back at the mistakes or dwell on what could have been.  I like to embrace every moment, even when I am crammed in a Cambi or singing really off key.  Life is super great! I love Christmas but I feel like every day is Christmas here!  I love you all and I promise I will answer your questions!   Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Feliz Navidad

   I can't believe it’s another week and I can't believe its Christmas
(almost)! I am super excited to see my family (: I will be calling
around 2 here in Peru so I believe that is like 12 for you guys. I hope
that works well and doesn't cause you all too much stress on
Christmas!! Well I saw a couple of the emails.  And I just want to say
congrats to the Flinders!! I am so excited  for you guys!! I will be
praying for you guys and I am with Abby,  I want another Flinder Girl!!
(: that is just the best news ever.  Well for responses from last
E mail.
  Abancay is probably one of the easier ones to pronounce so good luck
when I go to a new sector! Hahah You gringos are probably hilarious. I
still sound like a gringa and probably always will so join the club.
 Amee, you should hear and see our sacrament meetings.  I am sure
that Palmer and Ryder have nothing on the two years olds that run
around the pulpit and run in out of the room.  Coming from a singles
ward it’s a little different for me.
  Well I am proud of my family and your amazing stalking skills. Yes
you found my chapel on Ave. Nunez. Now for my house,  if you keep following
that road up you will run into the Plaza de Tamburco.  I live next to
there.  If you go one street over from Nunez moving away from the
Plaza that is my street.  We live next to a huge white shed at the top
of the hill. Our pension lives at the bottom and hopefully by the end
of this year we will move into their third floor room they are
building for us.
  Mom, yes it rains everyday but it’s a very soft rain, and usually
refreshing.  It’s a lot like mountain weather, when the sun is out it’s
really warm but at night it gets pretty chilly,  like jacket weather
is all.  I don't think it would be so hot if we weren't climbing and
hiking all day.  Abancay is one of the sectors in my mission that has
the best weather. So it literally will only get worse from here.  My
companion teases me that I am headed to the jungle next and I
seriously believe her! I will have to enjoy Abancay while it lasts.
It really is beautiful here.
  Soph: Patriarchal blessings are the best!! Congrats on the rest of
your life because I am sure it is going to be wonderful!  Always read
your blessing, it puts everything in an eternal perpesctive and
definitely helps me while I am out here.  Word of Advice: read it a
lot and follow the counsel.  It will be a great source of strength in
your life.  I wish I had read mine a little more often.
 Hannah! thanks for mentioning your trip to the Cheese Cake Factory.
Honestly, I could really go for a hamburger and fries from anywhere!
haha Lots of rice and potatoes here. Also I laughed at your nursery
story.  Hna Holland taught a primary class in her old sector which was
basically a two hour nursery where she was the only teacher.  Imagine
doing that in a foreign language....haha Yeah two kids you got this!
Soph: I want Falcons are fabulous pictures and the scoop!! It’s always
the best week!
Mom: It’s your needy child again, I am going to need more tights and
itch cream.  Tights are dog proof so my tights already look like they
are 80 years old. But yes I am wearing them every day because the
mosquitos are just awful here. I think this is the first Christmas
where I will have mosquito bites, a tan, and where I have eaten
watermelon almost everyday.  Sometimes Hna Holland starts singing, Its
beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we just laugh and laugh.
We are so funny!
 Okay so for my week! It was pretty great! Last Monday we went to
MIrador with Hermana Rene and her kids.  It’s a beautiful park way up on
the hill.  It’s kinda an unsupervised zoo as well.  I am sending
pictures to drop box.  Don't judge, fashion sense tends to be the last
thing on your mind.  It was like the perfect day and that family is
just the best! Sebastian and Diane! Hilarious kids.
Also this week we helped make hot chocolate for a primary activity.
We boiled this huge pot of water, and guess how we boiled it.  We
started a legit fire in a members house.  Like the whole works right
in her house.  We set up some cinder blocks, put the pot on them and
tha’ts how you do it in Peru.  Crazy right? Her whole wall in her house
is black from doing that often. Next to this fire was a small guniea
pig farm! My first sighting!! She has probably over 50 and they were
all so fat!  I just kept thinking of the Tice's pet Charlotte.  Haha I
haven't tried it yet but all the missionaries say they really love it.
  It will be interesting for sure!
  One last story, well maybe two.  There are a lot of dogs here.  Like
alot.  And our pension Rene has a dog named Shadow.  He is a nice dog
but seriously lacks a brain.  One night this week after dinner ( which
is like a midnight snack here, they have huge lunches and tiny tiny
tiny dinners, I have actually grown to like it a lot!) anyhoo we start
walking back up our Mount Everest and Shadow decides to follow us.  My
first thought is "oh that will be nice to have some protection" but as
we countinued up our hill we entered our neighborhood. Here the dogs
are very territorial and Shadow isn't a street dog so he has no
experience, But as Shadow entered our neighborhood, dogs come out of
the wood work and they are surrounding us and barking and growling.
HOly cow it was so scary.  We weren't even tired from walking because
of the adrenline.  Shadow keeps moving behind our legs for protection
and we are yelling at him to leave but he just keeps following us and
we are so terrifed! It was seriously the scariest!  Stupid Shadow!
But we made it safely to our room but poor shadow had to go back home.
We heard a lot of barking but luckily Shadow made it back.  He really
is the dumbest dog and a big scaredy cat! haha  Also this week I got
bit by a dog.  It was pretty exciting, but I guess it was bound to
happen!  Don't worry, it didn't break skin or anything so no rabies
for me!
   Anways,  I’ts been a really great week. I am loving it although the
language is probably the hardest.  It’s getting better but sometimes I
feel like it’s getting worst.  Hna Holland is a big help and very
supportive.   Thanks for all the support and  love.  I really do have
the best family ever! I love Christmas because it’s a time to reflect
on the Savior and all He did for us.  I hope you have seen the video
He is the Gift. What a great video!  Our Heavenly father loves us
beyond our comprehension.  I hope that this Christmas we can embrace
and accept our Savior.
   I can't wait to see you guys soon(: Love you all!

    Hermana Russell (:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week Two in Abancay!

 Hola familia!!
         This week has seriously flown by.  We have been so busy visiting members and menos activos.  There are a lot of menos activos here in Abancay! I am able to print out your emails so feel free to write long, heartfelt letters to me.  I was able to print out your emails and write some responses to them.  First I just want to thank my family for always writing me and for you amigos who write me too.  I just have so much love for all of you.  
   okay so responses! 
       Sophie... What are you doing for Falcons are Fabulous this year? I remember those times in school and they were always the best.  You will look back on those memories and love them!  Also how did the ACT go?  Don't worry about how well you do as long as your future husband aced his! (: haha You will also look back on that time and realize that in the grand scheme of things... it really does not matter! 
   Dad... Did you find Abancay?  I am in the Tamburco district which is the top of the hill.  It is beautiful here! It rains almost every nice, so sometimes I wish I had brought a lighter rain jacket, but our pension always loans me jackets when I have to walk home and it is raining.  I am going to try to buy one in Abancay.  also fun fact.  Dogs here in Abancay, are like Mcdonalds in the STates, one on every corner (: haha my favorite is the dog with dreads. 
   Ellie...  You sweet thing, expressed to me how amazing our parents are.  I back you up 400 percent.  But do you want to know why they are so amazing?   Because they are centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and because they are doing the things that parents need to do... teaching their children the principles of the gospel, through their every day examples.  Families here...well they are very disfunctional.  They don't have the gospel so they do a lot of things out of order.  I can see the difference the gospel makes in the family unit.  The gospel truly does bless families!  Our parents are amazing because they love God and love the teachings of Jesus Christ.  
    The ogden lights look super amazing fun, but you all are stunners (: I love my family!! I love telling people about you guys.  They are always surprised by me having four sisters! and I love showing them pictures!! 
    Okay Sisters:   You all better start playing the piano again! I regret it so much and I am for sure picking it back up when I get back.. The people here have never played and don't have the oppurtunity to learn.  I wish I knew some songs to teach them! 
   Traveling to Cusco! Well I had a lot of help.  It was a pretty great flight and I spent two nights in Cusco, one in a hotel, which was super cute and reminded me of that one show where the girl is traveling through ireland to propose to her boyfriend, I think its called Leap Year? But I don't know.  We spent the other night in the hermanas room.  They have a ton of mattresses and I guess they see a lot of hermanas pass by. 
  Mom,  how as the cake you made?  I thought It was pretty snazzy looking.  It reminds me of the lack of cake here.  They have this holiday "fruit cake" here that is really popular.  We had it the other night at my pensions house but its basically bread with fruit snacks spread around.  Haha interesting but I'll take it. 
   So I translated my favorite saying into spanish.  Coming in Hot.... Entrando Caliente... .Yeah not the same and Hermana Holland just laughed when I told her. 
   Amee:  Palmer will always be adorable.  even if she lost one eye, She would still steal the show.  I love that cute girl and I hope that she is loving her glasses.  
   OKay! So my week!  I wanted to tell you guys a little more about Hermana Holland.  She went to BYU the same year I did and we actually had the same chem 106 teacher and the same TA for 107... So yeah she knows the BYU Groper. Which is just hilarious. We talk a lot about those classes and BYU.  She was an RA there and loved it.  Hna Holland is just the sweetest girl you could ever meet.  She is a hard worker and has amazing faith!  We have seen so many tender mercies this week and I know it is through her great faith.  She also pushes me to speak spanish and often lets me lead lessons.  Which causes a mental panic in my head, but she is always there to back me up.  She is always in my corner and I know she could help me with anything.  She is also a ginger... I think all my best friends are gingers!  I am pretty sure I should have been one.  I do have the whitest skin out of the fam.  Anyways she is just super cool! 
   Because we visted so many people this week I can't possibly tell you everything. But I want to tell you about a girl named Yaneth.  She is 12 years old and a menos activos.  She lives in a very poor part of town.  Her house is basically all dirt, no glass windows or really a door.  We visit with her sitting on a little wood bench, and she sits on a broken plastic chair.  We found her through a member named Candy, that showed us where she lives.  She is the biggest sweet heart and really knows her stuff about the gospel. She is the only member in her family and I don't think she gets a lot of support. But we invited her to church and guess what, She came! I was so thrilled to see her! She stayed for all three hours.  It was the best to see here there! I wish I had a skirt to give her or something, but I think I will give her a CTR ring (:  
   Okay so my pension is seriously the best!  She is very very very healthy.  Me and hermana Holland are almost always starving.  We need more energy to climb these Hills! But she cooks really well.  For example she gave us fish one day and a drink that had vitamin C in it.  I guess that The vitamin C added with fish is supposed to help it even more, I don't know exactly how it works out, mostly because it was in spanish, but Its just really good to have fish and vitamin C.  She has taken some nutrionsist classes and she is really on top of things.  Here they don't have a big dinner, so lunch is huge!  and then dinner is like a wheat like drink and a sometimes a fruit or some bread.  It takes some adjusting but its good.  We are going with them to the Mirador today!  I don't have any new pictures but I will take some today.  Our last p day was pretty boring and we told her this at dinner, and she said, Yeah my day was boring too, lets make next monday better!  Yeah she is pretty great!   She has a 6 year old boy named Sebastian who is out of control.  ahah They were talking about a family one night at dinner, and I was drifting in and out of understanding them, but all of sudden Sebastian, pipes in "Soy Gay!" haha He has no idea what it means but we just laughed and laughed.  Hermana Rene said " Nino confeso"  (: Their family is really great,  I am beginning to understand her more too, which is super nice! 
  One last story,  We visited a menos activo named Martha, She has such a strong testimoney of the book of Mormon, we always wonder "why are you inactive?"! But she has little grand children and she owns a store, so during our lesson someone came to the store and she had to leave and help them.  So her grand daughter comes in carrying three of the tiniest cats I have personally ever seen. and basically threw them onto Hermana Holland! ahah It was so great! We really shouldn't even touch the animals here, so Hermana Holland was like wow! Que Linda! and then the grand daughter grabbed them back and they were all clinging on to hermana Hollands skirt and I was just laughing and laughing! I should have taken a picture of that percise moment.  It was classic.  
   Well I wanted to finish by answering Shelby's question.  Is a mission harder than Finals?  well I think I can answer that better when I have alittle more experience with both, but for now, I'll say, Yeah its alittle tougher, lots of stress, a little more physical and mental, sometimes you feel far away from anyone who loves you and sometimes you just need the encouraging words of you mom.  Or sometimes Shelby, I wish I could have some of your wise advice,  But with that said, there is a far greater reward from being on a mission, than acing a finals test. There is joy in seeing a young girl coming to church for the first time in awhile, or sharing your testimoney of the plan of salvation to a young 19 year old boy who doesn't know who is he is.  The reward is worth the work.  Salvation is worth the work.  I love being a missionary because there is something powerful in seeing someone pray for the first time and there is something powerful about bearing your testimoney.  
    Well.  I love you family so much!  I feel so blessed to have each one of you in my life and in my corner.  I am grateful for my Savior and I am grateful for this time of Chirstmas to really ponder about who he is and what he did for us.  We should all pray harder, study more diligently, and serve everyone we can.  Love you all! 
                           Con Amor, 
                                       Hermana Russell 

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm definitley not in Kansas anymore

Hola Familia!! 
    Wow it has been such a long week and half!! I have so much to tell you guys and even less time than I had in the CCM. Where do I begin?!  Well I am in ABANCAY! It is a city about four hours away from Cusco and it is literally on a HILL! But its called the city of eternal spring, so the weather is lovely.  My companion is HERMANA HOLLAND. A gringa from Portland Oregon!  I love her already so much!! She and I are opening a new sector, which means niether of us have been here before.  She just transfered from Ayavidi. A super cold and high place.  She went through a lot there.  She is an amazing hard worker and her spanish is perfect.  She has been out 7 months.  Opening a new sector has been really hard.  There are no house numbers here and we do not have a map.  So figuring out the area has been really hard, but its slowly coming.  The Sandbergs are a missionary couple here and they were kind enough to show us around one day.  Also the members are way nice to offer and make plans to accompany us, but usually something comes up.  Anyway we are really lucky because Elder Sandberg is also the branch president here.  We did not have church this Sunday due to elections in Peru, so we haven't met a lot of members yet.  The ones we have met have been really nice.  
    We live on the top of mount everest.  This is not a joke! its the biggest and steepest dirt hill you have ever seen. Our pensión or pensionista lives at the bottom of it.  I will make sure to take a picture of it.  Lets just say that my calves are eternally burning here.  Our pension is awesome though! Her name is hermana rene and she cares so much about our health! I have not gotten sick yet from her cooking or sick from anything here.  She gave us watermelon one day and it was like heaven on earth.  Also the mangos here are to die for! So So Good!! She makes really healthy food.  Her husband works in the mines so he is only home for ten days and then he is gone for 20 days.  They are great members and they have two little kids.  Diane and Sebastian!  They are super cute and even though i have a hard time understanding them, they always make us laugh.  
   Spanish! Well its very frustrating but I have only been here for a couple days and I can already see the improvement.  I dont feel like its a different language than what they taught me in the CCM so thats good.  Its frustrating because I just want to comunicate with people.  Hermana Holland is a big help though.  She suggested I read every word of the Book of Mormon outloud in spanish each day, so that is what I have been doing. i can already see the improvement.  
   Lets see,  Thanksgiving! We had a thanksfiving devotional from Provo MTC which was really good.  We got pecan pie for lunch which may have been the best pecan pie I have ever had.  It didnt really feel like thanksgiving, but i never felt sad or homesick that day.  Although some girls did.  I feel like I have been really blessed with no feelings of homesickness or being trunky.  I had a really good thanksgiving and it was reallly relaxing.  Because of all the down time we had the last week in the CCM and the first day in Cusco, I was able to finish the Book of Mormon in one week for the last time in English.  I love that book and I am so grateful for the fullness of the gospel it contains.  
  I have learned a lot in these few days.  I wish I had time to tell you guys every little detail, But some of the stories will have to be saved for later.  People are really humble here.  They dont have anything.  Their houses look a lot like our food storage.  Cement and unfinished parts.  Each house is different.  Our apartment is really small, but very nice.  We have really good shower, although I did take my first bucket shower this week.   
    Well I love you guys! I miss you guys a lot but I know this is where i am supposed to be.  Its really hard to open this sector in abancay but I know that there is something here I need to learn. I will be here for 12 weeks for sure and then who knows what.  
    Oh yeah I forgot to mention.  My president and his wife are the best!! They are so nice and kind!! My favorite night was when we had a testimoney meeting at their home with all the new missionaries, and at the end of the night President Harbertson played the closing song Called to Serve! He played it so fast and loud and it was the coolest thing!!

Con Amor,
Hermana Russell

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

One more week in the CCM

Surprise Pday is on Wednesday this week! It has been an awesome day, but it’s my last p day in the CCM and that means I’ts the last P day going to the temple for a little while.  It makes me so sad! I have loved going to the Lima Peru temple, and it has been such a blessing while I have been here.
   Well you guys made me laugh out loud with your hilarious Cougar tail story! Gosh you guys are the best, and I can´t imagine it being that cold.  Two sleeping bags, Mom?  You guys must have been true fans that night, which makes me very, very proud! It is so hot here! I have this awesome tan line on my feet and a watch tan line! Its ususally overcast in the morning but the sun always comes out.  It’s a little weird to be in the end of November and not seeing snow! I miss the cold, but pretty soon I will be in Cusco and hopefully it’s a little more Christmasy there.  But it’s pretty Christmasy here too.  The shops have lights up and trees and guess what?? The CCM put lights up on all the bushes and trees, they haven´t turned them on yet but we are all hoping we will see them lit up before we go.
    OKay so Dad! You asked if I had anything Peruvian I wanted you to look up! There are these Churros that they give us and you can buy them on the street, they are delicious! and filled with a sorta carmel like substance! They are soo good! We only get them every once in a while here at the CCM, but you should try to find them and see if it’s just a Peru thing!!
    This week has been same old same old! Honestly it’s the same schedule every day and even though it’s always fun, I am running out of things to tell you guys.
    I hope you understand from all my stories how hilarious Hno. Davalos is! I am keeping a quote book of all the things he says.  A story about him though,  This is his last district because he is leaving the CCM, so we decided to get him a tie and sign our names on the back, so maybe he would remember us a little more.  Anyways we were trying to sign it in the morning before he got to class, but we were a little slow so he showed up and Elder Augat is  trying to keep him outside and we are basically locking him out.  We are rushing to sign it and make it a surprise and Hno. Salcedo, who is my favorite person ever here, runs around the building to our window and basically sees everything!  But luckily he just laughed and I told him to keep it a secret!  Davalos loved the tie, well we think he did, he´s hard to read, but later that day he let us watch best two years!! Which is even more funny when you are a missionary by the way.
   On Sunday we watched an old MTC devotional, like always, but this time Jeffery R. Holland was speaking.  I just love when he speaks.  You guys should read his talk about Missionary work and the Atonement.  It gets me every time we watch that video.  Anyway he talked about the missionary program, and why they decided to change it and once again he talked on why missions are so hard, and how we are our first convert.  But I liked what he said, he said that if a missionary comes home and falls away from the church, there is something wrong.   He said that there is no more old life, and there is not going back to the way things were.  He said this quote but I don´t remember who said it first but "I cannot perceive losing my sheep, let alone my shepherds".  He also said that you cannot walk away from this, and you cannot ever stop living with the spirit in your life after your mission.  Elder Holland as always rocks it.  Anyways I had a whole bunch of quotes from him, but I left my scripture journal in my room.
   Yesterday was the best day ever.  We had personal study from after lunch to nine o’clock, because we were able to watch a live devotional from Provo! Elder Oaks spoke and it was really good.  But it was a really late night!  I guess none of us were exactly obedient on that day.
    Anyways, life is really good! This time has flown by and I have gotten so comfortable here.  I am nervous but super excited to get out and get going in Cusco! We taught an investigator this week that happened to be Hno. Davalos, and at the end of the lesson he gave us a little feedback and encouragement.  He said in the field that the work is non stop, and if it is not like that than there is something wrong.  I am so excited to do some actual missionary work! But I am going to miss all the friends I have made here and the teachers, and the temple!
   I just want you guys to know how much I love you all.  It is so nice to be out here and to know that someone somewhere has my back.  Will you do me all a favor and go to the temple as much as you can.   there is something powerful in being in the Lord´s house. It doesn´t matter what language or where you are at, the temple is home to me.  And each P day I have been going home.  I think of my family a lot when I am in the temple, because I know that one day we will all be in there together.   The part in missionary work that we have been focusing on is not just baptizing people but helping people come unto Christ and Endure to the End! I can see how important the temple is in enduring to the end. So keep going!
  Well I love you all and want you to know how grateful I am for you guys in my life.  Have a great Thanksgiving! Love you more than tongue can tell!
        Con amor,
                     Hermana Russell

I have a little more time today! I just wanted you guys to know how great i am doing!! Honestly I love it here! I love being a sister leader and I love the Hermanas and I respect the Elders, (because we can´t love them!) Haha  I have basically everything I need and I hardly miss you guys!! JOTA KA!  I miss you guys a lot but I never really want to go home! I just wish I could call and tell you the funny stories.
   So next week we are leaving so I don´t know when my next P day will be, but I am so excited to be going!! It’s great here, but it’s just the same every day.  OH funny story that I will share, there is a Hermana from New Zealand here.  She is the sweetest, sassiest thing and we have become pretty great friends.  But she doesn´t really understand that some of our words in America are swear words and are usually not socially accepted.  Well I like hanging around her a lot because you never know what she’s going to say.  I guess the hermanas in her district are trying to tell her that Heck is a swearword, but it slips out almost in every conversation.  She is a riot!! hahah  I play volleyball with her and some other Hermanas and Elders,  they are the intermediate missionaries which means that they leave two weeks after I do.  But we have all gotten so close, and way better at volleyball.
    Anyways I miss my family’s humor, for sure!! I think we should all come back to Lima! It’s a pretty neat city!

  Well I love you guys, and I am so thankful to be your daughter! Love you! and tell Grace to write me!! That girl is something else!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Hola again family!
 This week has flown by! Thanks for the emails.  You guys are the best family in the world! Mom those costumes you made for Sophie’s dance were perfect! You are so talented! And also just amazing!!  Hannah I hope you didn't get attacked by a bear this week, and or found a new job.  And I also hope your beautiful hair is intact and the rest of you.  Love you!  I was so excited to read about the Utah game!! HAHA it made me laugh and miss football, its crazy cause I hardly think about it while I´m here, but DAD I bought you the sweetest Y tie at the temple store.   You´ll have to wait 17 months to get it, but it will be something to look forward too.  So those who have been asking, I got Jed´s package last P day.  It was super awesome, it included, taco seasoning, mac and cheese, and popcorn, various other spanish things and also the coolest bag ever! so I´m going to save the food for when I´m out of here, but the taco seasoning might be needed by next week. HAHA
 Okay so this week we are the advanced group, and me and Hermana Hill are the new Sister leaders. I am mostly excited about this because we get to interview all the hermanas and get to know them better!  Our relationship is so good, she is feeling better and we are working really hard.  Our lessons are so much better because we have gone in there without any notes and relied on the spirit to tell us what to say and what to talk about.  Of course we prepare a little but it’s pretty awesome.  I really love her and even though we have different senses of humor we have found out how to work around it.  Its muy bien!! I was also in the choir on Sunday when Elder Evans came to speak on missionary work.  I love singing in Spanish, and I now have two Spanish songs memorized!! I miss music because we are not allowed to have it here.
   On Saturday I experienced my first earth quake!! Man it was awesome, but a little freaky! We were in the middle of class and hear this huge rumble and then things start to shake and my teacher stares at the floor and really slowly in broken English says.  oh... my.. gosh.  EARTHQUAKE, we ran outside to our safety circles and we were safe! But man, it was easy to stay awake the rest of class.
Hna Villannueva is hilarious! We play grammar games out on the soccer field and she threatens the Elders with a bat when they mess up.  We play the funniest games and her broken English is just too funny!! She always says really, instead of right. But don´t worry we try to help her.
  My other teacher is Hno Davalos,  He is the one that pretended not to know English for the first two weeks but now he speaks fluently.  He says the funniest one liners, and I wish I could just call you guys and tell you exactly what he says.  My favorite is when he was talking about is wife during the earthquake,  he said... My wife was scary... and hna cooper you mean scared? and he said... Yes, but she is both! ha oh man their broken English is just too funny, but I'm sure mine is great too, like when we were asked to show a new Latino sister the cafeteria and I told her the Juego was over there instead of the Jugo, which is juice not game.  She laughed pretty hard and now every time she sees me we laugh and laugh.  ! We met some Hermanas going to Cusco this week! They are so cute!!  Also Hno Davalos said that he can usually remember his students names for 2-3 days after we are gone, but apparently that’s good because the Latinos elders he forgets after ten minutes..   haha we are all trying to get him to remember our names, by being a good class.  He let us play heads up with Spanish verbs during grammar class one day! HILIAROUS!  I was playing and the word I was trying to guess was escapar (to escape) and one of the elders on my team literally just jumped out the window and I thought Hno Davalos was going to die from laughing.  We laugh a lot, and I can´t tell you all the funny things that happen, but just know I´m recording them all down in my journal, so one day I will tell you all the most hilarious things.  OH but one more.  We had a different teacher one morning and she was telling us about Iquitios because one of the elders is going there.  And she said you will eat monkey hand and it will be given to you on a plate, and you will say....Ooohh HI Five! but when she said it was hilarious! Oh man I know this probably isn´t making much sense, but its pretty funny stuff right there!
   I was also chosen this week with some other missionaries to evaluate some new teachers they may hire.  It was way fun because I got out of class and I mostly understood what they were saying in Spanish. 
Sunday! They are the best and this Sunday we legitly had a chocolate fountain for lunch and got to watch Ephraim’s Resuce!!
   Well Elder Evans came to talk to us on Sunday.  He is the head of the missionary office under Elder Bednar, and Elder Nelson.  He talked on Tenacity! Which was so good! Tenacity is having absolute determination to get things done.  And to get it done right,  He talked about the Savior and his tenacity that he had to finish his work here on earth.  I am so grateful for my Savior.  He is my best friend out here.   I also would like to leave you with just one more thought.  Being a missionary is so much fun, but so much work.  But I am loving it,  the best thing is that every day is a battle.. it’s so hard and I miss you all so much, I can´t even think about it, but.. Every night is a VICTORY!   I know that when we are allowing the spirit to be in our lives, we will not go wrong, we cannot go wrong.  He will guide us and lift us when we need it.  He loves us unconditionally, don´t forget that! I love you all!   Keep up the emails and pictures!!

Love, Hermana Russell!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My shoe shining, clam dip, sandy, nostril flaring, plague escaping week

Subject: My shoe shining, clam dip, sandy, nostril flaring, plague escaping week.

Hola Familia,
   It’s been a great week and I can´t believe I am starting my fourth week out here. Next week I will be advanced! I feel like my Spanish has improved a ton but the more I learn the more I find out how much I don´t know.  I´m trying to figure out how best to write these letters so pardon the scrambled and jumbled thoughts.  I have so much to say and so little time.
      Hermana Cooper is hilarious. Example I wore my fly shirt on Sunday (Emma has a shirt that is green with tiny little flies on it lets call them bees!), and half way through the meeting she said, “Hey there´s a fly on your shirt!” we laughed pretty hard at that one.  Thursday night I thought I should shine my shoes but dad you never officially showed me how, I messed around a little before I came, but the elders said they would demonstrate a lesson on shoe shining.  Don´t worry I think they knew how to do it.  We ended up shining everyone’s shoes and it was a super funny.  I guess it’s a good thing to massage the creases of your shoes, but I don´t really know. Sophie we sang Battle Hymn of the Republic in Spanish and I just wanted to blurt out in English HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON!! But I refrained, miss you, you little cuss! Sisters! Thank you for the sweet normal day to day emails they help me so much! I love hearing about your lives every little detail.  Just like I would normally hear about them.  Okay so keep up the good work!
 My companion got really sick and had a fever of 104.  Luckily for me I have avoided this black plague.  She literally looks and sounds like death.  She’s coming around but it’s been hard on the Spanish and the lessons. Saturday night we had to go in early, it was a bummer but I got a lot of studying done and I think the sleep really helped her! The elders also gave her a priesthood blessing, which is always a cool experience.  It was Elder Martin’s first time so that was cool. 
  Normal but the foods getting worse to me.  Oh Boy! I can´t eat another grain of rice but good thing they have these really great cookies you can buy on P day called Casinos.  They keep me going throughout the week.  Oh and Inca Cola! Best drink ever!  The Elders buy like 7 of the 3 liters bottles of that stuff. 
 We watch these MTC devotional reruns every Sunday.  They are usually very good and Apostles speak at them.  We watched one with D. Todd Christofferson and he talked about the worth of the soul.  Really really great talk.  And I saw my friend Emily in the choir.  She´s been out of the MTC for a while now, but it was nice to see her.  So the plague spread through the district and especially in my room.  But I haven´t felt any signs of a cold and I take my vitamins and I took zinc for a while to help. Hermana Cooper was called to give a talk in Spanish on Sunday.  She did very well and only mistakenly said pescados instead of pecados, for you non Spanish speakers, fish instead of sins.  Good thing it’s only a bunch of Americans in the congregation, because I´m pretty sure the Latinos would have got a kick after that. 
  The worst part about the showers here is the bi-polar water, It’s usually blasting hot or freezing cold.  And the Latinos take about three hours in there.  I have to wake up right at 6 to get in before they do.  But lately I have had good luck, Hna Cooper...not so great luck. 
  Tuesdays are the best here because of devotional Tuesdays night. This time we just watch another video of an apostle at a MTC devotional, where I saw another friend from school DEREK. who only probably Shelby and the rest of the roommates will know who I´m talking about, but It was good to see him too.  While we were watching the video Elder Wright went around and stole the name tags off of every sleeping elder.  At the end of the devotional he had everyone’s name tag on his jacket.  It was pretty funny and we got a kick out of it.  Tuesday night Elder Budden shared a very interesting story and I wish I had time for it.  Remind me when I get home, but all I´m saying is that don´t  let anybody shove clam dip down your pants when you’re sleeping, I guess you don´t get a goodnights rest when that happens.  Oh Elder Budden, He´s a crack up!  And Sand Volleyball, a new game we found that is even more fun than regular volleyball, I’m getting really good.  My dives are on point and we always see who can get the sandiest.  I won because I dived and my foot kicked up and poured sand in my hair.  hahah.  OH and plus I´m getting a tan! Which is exciting!
The one message that stood out to me this week in everyone of my spiritual moments, was the message, Ask and Ye Shall Receive! I struggled with the language this week, having charity and being diligent, but I was reminded that WE can always ask God for whatever we need. And he will be happy to help us.  Especially Charity, it’s a major factor in missionary work, without it I don´t think you could get anything done.  So pray for the things you need, ask for help and you will find it.  Also look up Charity in the Bible Dictionary, and realize that that kind of love is the love our Savior has for each one of us, no matter what.
    I love you all and hope everything is going good where ever you may be!!
        con amor,
                    Hermana Russell

p.s. Sophie I literally flared my nostrils this week.  I will send a selfie when I can.  TQM

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Family is Very Important in My Life

Hola familia!
   How is everything going today? Thank you for all the emails and love!! I just love you guys so much!! I literally have a thousand emails from you guys!! Poor people sitting next to me get like two.  Awkward!!  Oh did you look up that fruit I told you to? You just have to!
   So how was Halloween? Who won the contest at the Bitners?  How did Ellie and Grace look? I am hoping there are pictures on here!! And I want to hear all about your costume mom!! And you Amee!!
   So last P day was kinda crazy! We got lost in Lima and took three buses to get back to the CCM! But the temple was beautiful! It is so small, they don´t have a chapel and the room holds 25. The sealing room which is part of the celestial room holds about ten.  Also today I saw the old old old movie.  It was quite interesting.  I think it would have been better in English.  After the temple we got Spanish scriptures and the cutest cases ever.  The temple store is awesome here.  I bought a soccer jersey at Garajes. A Peru one! Sophie the jerseys are like 8 dollars here, so tell me which country you want.   The Messi ones are so cool!!  They have a shopping place called Totus here, I bought sticky tac and hung up pictures of everyone on my wall next to my bed.  Each night I fall asleep looking at all you lovely people and it makes me so happy.  I read dad´s last paragraph to me each night.  Thank you for that letter dad.  It gives me so much peace and happiness!
  We taught our first investigator last week.  It went really rough and I have to say I was pretty frustrated.  It’s hard to teach a lesson in a different language.  It’s also hard to be at a loss for words.  You can prepare a lesson all you want, but sometimes you don´t know what they are going to ask you and you know the answer in English but it’s not there in Spanish.  That is very frustrating.  But we taught a lot this week and each time it gets better and better for me.  I can now say kinda what I´m feeling in broken Spanish.   One lesson we sang for our investigator.  We weren´t planning on it but we did it anyway.  It actually turned out well and brought the spirit.  Although Sophie if you were there you probably would have laughed at me.  The Spanish hymns are beautiful.  You guys should try singing some!!
    Okay for the first time in my live I kinda rolled my R´s!! It was awesome.  It’s not very smooth and I don´t do it when I´m speaking yet, but I´m practicing every day.  I´m pretty sure I sound like a star wars character.
   We went to migration this week for visa stuff.  It took six hours in the most sketchy  building you have ever seen! I was so tired by the time we were done.  We waited in line the whole time and then handed a stack of papers to a person.  It felt like a DMV of Peru!!  Also the traffic here is insane.  Like the roundabouts don´t have any lanes and I’ts just a free for all.
  Our teacher Hermano Davalos, finally spoke English to us!! We knew he could do it and it’s really good.  While he was talking, Hna Cooper said wow your Spanish is really good...   and he was like  thanks I have been practicing for 25 years. She totally meant to say that his English was good.  Hna Cooper is hilarious!!
  One night we practiced door contacting with our district.  I was the missionary first so I had to knock on a door and some from my district was behind it.  Well I knocked and Elder Ludlow jumped out in the window of the door.  It scared me so bad and I totally lost my train of thought.  He said he was an athiest and he would not let me in... It was the worst! haha I´m pretty sure that I didn´t say anything comprehendable to him.  Oh fun fact.  As my Spanish gets better my English gets worse.  I can never speak right at all.
   Fast Sunday is awesome here.  We don´t have dinner the night before or breakfast on Sunday.  But we have a huge feast for lunch! They gave us CHURRos filled with dulce de leche.  They are the best thing you have ever eaten in your life.  The food is still good but I can´t eat any more rice.  I keep asking for menos por favor and I can never finish it. CCM rule finish everything on your plate. So no more rice for me.  Also we watch old mtc devotionals which are hilarious and sometimes old BYU basketball players say the prayers
  We got new hermanas this week on Wednesday so I am no longer in the beginner class. We are the intermediates.  I can´t beleive I have been here for so short of time but it feels like so long.  The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days.
  We went to interpol this week for more visa stuff.  They had to get all our fingerprints and then check our teeth.  Again super sketchy place, but we passed time by playing games like am I a witch and the camping game.  They are so funny and I can´t wait to play with you guys.  Don’t look up the game or it will spoil it.  We have an elder from England here. Elder Quenes, he was playing the witch game and all the Peruvians were just staring at him like he was a crazy person.  It was super funny.  Part of the game is standing up and doing random movements and asking if you are a witch or not.
  So I learned a lot this week.  It was a rough week, but I still love it here.  Sometimes I cry in class just thinking of you guys getting along without me.  I don´t know how you are doing it!
But I´m just enjoying everything about this place.  The hermanas are awesome the teachers are so great!! Everything!! My favorite thing my Hermana Villanueva said this week was Tengo Cupcake! Cause we got cupcakes on Halloween, which was the only way I knew it was Halloween.

Okay the spiritual side of things.
An elder bore his testimony in church, he just left on Tuesday, but he said What a fool he was for not taking time to study his scriptures or talk to God.  I feel the same way.  I should have studied more and prayed harder!!  WE have to fight for time to read our scriptures here.  We are given no time to just enjoy them and I really miss it.  I wish I would have taken advantage of that time while I was growing up.  so girls!! don´t waste your time doing things that are less important than scripture study!!
  Also a story was shared about an investigator and basically the gist was that each time God introduces his Son he always says, This is my Beloved Son Hear him.  and the question for us is how do you want God to introduce you! And what are you going to do to make that happen.  I have been focusing all week on developing my faith in Jesus Christ, and studying his words and the words of His prophets.  I want God to introduce me as a faithful servant who never stopped having faith or never lost sight of what was really important in live.  Someone who gave their all every chance they got.  I hope you can all think about how you want God to introduce you and figure out a way to make that possible.  Because one day we will be glad we did just that.
  A quick more thing.  I learned a valuable lesson this week when a surprise investigator  that we didn´t know we were teaching till ten minutes before, stopped us in a middle of the lesson and taught us about how you teach people not lessons.  It was tender mercy for me because I have been feeling like a Spanish robot as I have taught, and that’s not how I want to be.  It’s a challenge to show your personality, but these are real people who need to be taught in a way that is desirable to them.  After the lesson he took our notes away, our scriptures, everything, and made us teach him for five minutes, I have never felt the spirit that strong in a lesson before.  We made the message desirable to him and then he was all ears.  We were both able to add our testimonies and my Spanglish wasn´t too bad.  It was awesome.
   Well I love you all!! Thanks for all the love and support!!
Hermana Russell


 P.S.S hannah i hope your car is okay.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Hola family and friends
 It’s been a long week but only because I couldn't wait to tell you all the awesome things that happened this week. First off I would like to thank my mom for packing me so well!! Everyone else was a complete mess.  Also thanks to President Ferrell for giving me the great advice to try to be on missionary schedule. I haven't been very tired compared to all the other missionaries.  And finally a thanks for my parents for taking me to the temple so many times.  I did a session today in Spanish and I was able to sort of translate it in my head.  IT WAS SO AWESOME!  I also wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to half my family and my friend Katie and Crew!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!. Especially my favorite set of twins. You guys mean the world to me. I am so blessed to be a big sister to you two.  You make me want to be a better person.  I hope you guys had a great day. I was thinking about you all day!  And to my dad! You are the greatest dad ever and I love you so much! Happy Birthday!! I hope you had tons of ice cream and what not. 

 So my p day isn't usually going to be on Wednesdays. It’s going to be on Thursdays, but by a tender mercy it was moved to today.  Where to begin? The flight was uneventful. I slept a lot and ate some of the food they gave me.   Unbeknown to me, my companion sister Hill was sitting by me on the way to Lima.  She is so great and loves to get things done. She has a similar story as me about the mission.  She went to a year at Utah State and then decided to go on a mission.  She turned twenty in Sept.
 We flew down with lots of elders and 7 sisters.  Who are now my roomies. Two of them are going to Puirra so they are in a different district Hermana Mitchell and Hermana Christiansen.  Then the rest of us our going to Cusco.  Hermana love and Hermana Cooper, from Hawaii and Rhode Island.  We laugh a lot! And our district is awesome. 
 We got to the CCM (Peru MTC) about 2AM.  Peru looks very different.  The weather feels like San Diego but the buildings almost look abandoned. The best thing is that the stop lights countdown so you know how long you have till it changes.  Dad you can incorporate that into the stoplight job you want!
 When we got here we were given a schedule for the next six weeks.  Crazy filled with tons of classes. It was overwhelming at first.  But I got used to it pretty fast.  W wake up at six and don't get back to our rooms till 9:30ish. It feels long but at the end of the day it’s like "woah that went fast".
 All the Elders and Hermanas are so nice and friendly.  It’s so little here so you pretty much get to know everyone. The Elder latinos always say "hola hermanas" and let us go straight to the front of the food line.  Also the latinos hermanas are mi mejor amigas.  We play volleyball with them during physical activity and it is one of my most favorite things.  We play with the Elders and Hermanas and we have no idea what they are saying but I laugh so hard when they make fun of each other.  They say bien bien when I do something good but don't say anything when I completely fail. It’s just my favorite thing.
    The food!! It’s so good. I don't know how you could ever go hungry here.  There is so much of it.  I squirt limes on the rice to spice it up. Limes are my life these days.  Oh and guess what I have had perfect health! Like not even a little sick.  My favorite thing is this fruit called granadia.  Look it up! It’s so good! You don't chew it though, you just have to swallow it. So Ellie, it’s a no go for you.  It is really healthy for you digestive system.  I eat like 2 a day if they have them out. 
    The Spanish is frustrating at times, but I'm grateful for my Spanish background.  It has come in handy.  I know how to pray, say my testimony and most of the vocab words that go along with lesson 1. They just throw you into it! I feel like I am in primary again with what I can say.  But I kinda love it.  It makes you think about the simple things. 
    I love our teachers! Hermana Chacon and Hermano davalos in the mornings and Hermana Villanueva in the afternoon.  They are so funny and very patient with us.  Davalos only speaks to us in Spanish, but a hermana told us he speaks fluent English and doesn't have  an accent.  He won't admit it though.  But we all try to get  him to say something in English.  Hna Villanueva is so cute. She is learning English so we help her pronounce her words.  I love it! and her so much! The classes are the best and we are learning so much. 
    Saturday a bunch of children visited.  We go to greet them at the door and in the hallway.  They were hugging us and shaking our hands.  The best ever.  I already love the people so much!!
    So the district is awesome we have 3 companions of elders and 2 companions of sisters.  We stay in one room together always.  At our district meeting, an elder asked for a blessing.  It was his companions first time. And man the spirit that filled the room was absolutely incredible.  The priesthood power is so awesome! These elders were called of God to preach this gospel.  It was a great reminder to me that the Priesthood will always be here to bless me.  I miss that about you dad! You were always there to give me a blessing!
    So we watched a Mormon message from Jeffery Holland about how salvation is cheap.  It’s a great video and you need to watch it!!  Somewhere this week we also talked about the first great convert, which is ourselves! So if you haven't already done so, convert yourself!! Search the scriptures for anything you don't have the strongest testimony about.  And then pray! The way we can hasten this gospel is by first gaining a strong testimony for ourselves.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to hear a devotional from an area of the seventy.  I couldn't figure out his name. But he said we are not here to baptize. We are here to make disciples! To convert people who are going to stay active and in return convert many others.   I am so excited to preach to the Peruvians! I think that they have the greatest spirit ever!!
    I honestly love the CCM!! It is so awesome and I am learning so much about Spanish and about the gospel.  But of course I miss my family! I love you guys more then you will ever know. You mean the world to me and opening my email to 20 new messages made my heart just sing!! I can't wait to share the message of eternal families with the people of Cusco! Because that is something that is worth everything!!
  To my sisters:  you girls are the greatest girls I know.  You have the power to do great things in this life and the next.  Don't stop being examples of the Believers! If there is something you think you should do to hasten the gospel don't hesitate to do it!  The Lord loves you! And He truly does have a plan for you, so be worthy of it.  I love you girls so much and I miss my meyor amigas!  
   I love you all! Thanks for all the support and prayers!! 
                                  Hermana Russell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Safe and Sound

Hey mom and dad and various others! i am here in Peru! the flight was great and super easy.  My companion is sister Hill who you met! She is awesome. We flew down together so that was nice.  I dont have a lot of time today and I really cant figure out this keyboard but i love you guys.  i am so happy to be here. i got my name tag today and it was awesome! i will tell you more about everything soon.  dont worry I have been making a list of things to tell you guys, send everyone my love and tell them i am so happy! Its great here and the people are really friendly. Love you so  so so much!
                con amor, 
                                Hermana Russell
p.s. thanks for all the emails. it makes me happy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Here I Go!

    I can't believe the time has finally come! I am headed out to Peru tomorrow morning and in just three hours I'll be set apart.   Woah. I am going to be a missionary.  Its been harder than I thought to prepare for a mission, but its all so worth it.  I have learned many things along the way.  The gospel is amazing because it gives us a chance to progress and become better.  I know our Heavenly Father loves each of us.  He has a plan for all of us, we just need to find out what it is and then act on it! He will be with us, He wants to be with us! I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior.  I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to serve and bring the wonderful message of the Gospel to people in Peru.  I love my family and am very grateful that families are forever.  I know that the family unit is essential to the Plan of Happiness.  God's plan is perfect. As long as we follow Him we will find true happiness.  Serve others. Be quick to repent.  Be better than you were yesterday. Endure to the end.
Thank you for the support and all the love.  I am truly so blessed.  I can see the Lord's hand in my life as I think of all the people I have met.  The church is true and life is so good! I can't wait to do my part in hastening His work. LOVE YOU ALL!

Email me here:
Or write me here:
                     Hermana Emma Russell
                     Peru Cusco Mission
                     Av. de la Cultura 2417
                     Frente de Urb. Santa Ursula
                     Capilla Mormona
                     Cusco, Peru
There is a mail strike so.... ask my mom before sending any letters! (:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thoughts on the Farewell

Its time for another blog post! Whoo!
     Its getting real, people!  I have been a real mess this week. (Ask my mom).  Satan is real good at his job and I struggle with feelings of discouragement or inadequacy, but it doesn't change how I feel about serving a mission.  It's exactly what I need to be doing.  I have my highs and lows, but I'm very grateful for family and friends who are so so so supportive.  
      Last Sunday was my farewell.  It was so great! The whole day I was just overwhelmed with love for all my family and friends. Wow! I am just so blessed.  So many people were there and I just loved the whole spirit in the meeting.  I spoke with another missionary, Elder Miller.  His remarks were so amazing and he just brought an amazing spirit to the meeting. He is going to do amazing things in Texas! 
     My talk was on the the first great commandment.  I learned so much while I was preparing it that I wish I could have told you everything I learned.  I found some amazing talks by our dear leaders that were inspiring and filled with quotes.  (If I wasn't going on a mission, I would print those up and hang them in my room).  I thought about sharing my talk, but I think I am just going to share the talks I found and let you do the studying. 
    • The First Great Commandment by Elder Jeffery R. Holland.  I actually did not use any quotes from his talk because I couldn't find a way to fit them in, but he has the most powerful thougths about beind devoted disciples. 
    • The Great Commandment by Joseph B. Wirthlin.  Best. Talk. Ever. 
    • Of Things That Matter Most by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.  I just love president Uchtdorf and I love his topics he speaks on! This is one of my all time favs. 
    • The Great Commandment--Love the Lord by Ezra Taft Benson.  Another inspiring talk about loving God
Well there you have it! These are great talks to study and to read.  They helped so much in my talk. I just love our latter day prophets and I'm so excited to hear from them THIS weekend! Whoo! General Conference should be a national holiday! It's getting just as exciting as Christmas! 
      Thank you all for your love and support! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

¡Hola, Mis Amigos!

      Before I head out to the CCM and before my wonderful mom takes over this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to share some feelings, thoughts or just what I am up to while I prepare to serve my mission. I'd like to start by sharing how and why I made the decision to serve.
       Serving a mission wasn't always what I had planned for myself.  I know now that it is what the Lord planned for me but I didn't know it until about four months ago.   About a year ago I decided that school was where I needed to be so I moved out and started my freshmen year of college.  It was an awesome experience!  I met my four very best friends and also found a passion for chemistry.  I loved the college life even though it had many ups and downs.  During my first semester I thought a lot about serving a mission.  I was already nineteen so I could have gone after the fall semester, but whenever I thought about it, well, it just didn't feel right.  I really didn't have a desire to serve and I felt like there was no way I could leave everything behind.  I took this feeling as a no and enrolled in the next semester.  Life went on and I didn't think much about a mission.  My friends and I found an apartment for the next year, we signed up for 2014 fall classes, finished up our finals, and moved back home.  I was happy to be home and I was very happy to have a stress free summer.
      On June 1st,  I attended a YSA stake conference with my family. During that meeting I could not get serving a mission off my mind.  The speakers never mentioned missionary work, but sitting there in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square I knew that I needed to ask again.  I also knew that I had done it all wrong.  I needed to pick a choice and pray to my Heavenly Father if it was the right choice.  The next week I prayed and started studying Preach My Gospel.  I began to have a desire to serve and I was filled with so much joy! That next Wednesday, I went to a mission call opening for a friend, there I ran into another friend who was reporting to the Mexico MTC in just a week.  We walked home together and she was able to share with me a little bit of how she decided to serve.  Her story of faith and obedience touched my heart and I knew that I wanted to serve a mission.  I knew that any worries or qualms I had about serving a mission would be resolved through faith in my Heavenly Father.  I went home that night and decided to tell  my mom all that I had been feeling. I told her that I felt like now was my time to serve a mission, but I was worried about varrious things.  For the first time I said everything I was worried about out loud.  As soon as I said them I realized how small and insignificant they were compared to serving the Lord.  I decided to go to the Lord in prayer and let him know I had decided to serve a mission and ask whether or not that was the right thing for me.  I prayed and studied each night for the rest of the week.  I don't think I have ever been that happy or had that much peace about a decision. The upcoming Sunday, June 8th, was fast Sunday.  I decided to fast to know for sure that this is what I needed to do.  Sunday came and went.  I was so happy all day! I knew I had my answer so I shared the news with my parents and my sisters.  That night I set up an appointment with the Bishop to open my mission papers.  I met with him on June 10th and started the process.  Two weeks later my papers were submitted and two week after that on July 9th I opened my mission call in front of my family.  Peru Cusco Mission October 21! From the moment I read it, I knew it was exactly where the Lord needed me. The timing, the Peru CCM, the language, the country, the weather there! Everything seemed to be just what I needed.
Mi Familia and I on a great day! 

      Deciding to go on a mission wasn't easy for me.  It took the Lord about a year to work on me to the point where I even had the desire and the faith to go. There is two main reasons why I decided to serve a mission.  One reason is kind of selfish.  I wanted to do it for myself.  I knew that just going to school and church was not enough for me.  I needed something more to become the woman Heavenly Father intended for me to become.  I needed to completely turn my life over to Him.  I needed to align my actions with His actions. How would I do that? By serving a mission and serving with everything I had. The second reason is to, of course, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know it is true.  I can see that it is true through the joy and hope it brings into my life.  The Church has taught me how to stay grounded, how to talk to people, how to be quiet, how to be disciplined, and how to  have a great life.  The Gospel has taught me about my Savior, my Heavenly Father,  and how I can return to live with them one day.  My relationship with my Heavenly Father is one of my favorite things.  I talk to him everyday and I tell him everything.  I want to help people build their relationship with their Heavenly Father and with their Savior. So that they can have hope, faith, and joy in this life.  Every once in awhile I get a little nervous about leaving, but I have found that when I do get scared I think about the people in Cusco who are ready for me to bring them the Gospel.  They must be even more scared than me because they do not know their Savior yet and they have not experienced the true joy that comes from living the Gospel.  I am so excited to serve the people of Peru! Four weeks can't come fast enough!