Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Always a Good Day

Hola Familia!!

Thank you so much for all the emails and love!  I have the best family
and friends a missionary could ask for!  Thank you so much!  I am so
lucky to be able to read everyone’s testimonies every week.  So you
guys (aka mom) asked me some questions.

Spanish:  Yes it’s a ton easier than 7 weeks ago, but I still am not
fluent.  I can understand a gringos Spanish perfectly, but some
Latinos are really hard to understand.  When we are talking about the
Gospel it’s a ton easier, but when they are telling stories it’s a
little harder.  I feel like I have improved a lot though.  In lessons
I can usually say what I want to say and I can understand Spanish of
people I am around a lot, like Hermana Rene.  This week I went on
splits with Hermana Chipunavi.  She came to my sector, so that meant
that I had to take the lead in lessons and talking with our
investigators and people we visited.  It also meant that I only spoke
Spanish all day.  I felt like I did pretty good and I loved being with
Hermana Chipunavi.  She is great and helped my Spanish a lot!  Every
day it gets a little easier.

Laundry:  Well this has actually been quite a mess.  Our person that
washed our laundry also washes the clothes of four other elders.  She
lost my sweats and almost my towel.  So we went and talked to Hermana
Rene and now she is doing our
laundry!  She is like super mom I swear!  She hand washes everything
and she does an amazing job! She has literally adopted us into her
family.  This week she accompanied us to a lesson (yeah she has time
for that too).  But she said to our investigator Cesar that she has
four kids, two latinos and two gringas.  And then she said “We are
happy, just us five”  WE love her!  She also tells us to not put too
much mayo on our food and salt.  And when Hermana Holland left to go
on splits in a different sector , she made her bring a jacket.  I
don’t know how she does everything!

Health:   I am sleeping fine, like always.  I can fall asleep in five
minutes and stay asleep the whole night.  I am very grateful for that
blessing!  I haven’t been sick once and we haven’t had to stay inside.
I don’t know how my health has stayed so good.  We get rained on a
lot, lots of cold showers, but I think its half on the food and half
on just taking care of myself.  Maybe it’s the vitamins! I don’t know,
but I am grateful for it.  The mosquitos are probably the worst thing.
Last p day we played soccer and I got bit.  It was so bad my ankle was
swollen and really tender and bruised.   Now it’s fine and back to
normal coloring J.  But I have used a whole tube of Neosporin.  For
the first time in my life, and that’s saying something.  Also my hair
has been falling out more than usual.  I think it’s the climate….

 Food: Well it’s a ton different than home.  Rice every day for lunch,
potatoes and usually a meat too .  Breakfast and dinner are really
small, like really small, but I have gotten used to it.   My favorite
thing is Camote frito, which is fried sweet potato.  It is so good!!
And my favorite meal is Aji de Gallina!  Its literally the best thing
ever!  I love when RenĂ© makes it!   Desserts are just not sweet here
and they don’t eat for pleasure J.

Boots:  I am so glad you sent them to me!! Thank you thank you!  I
wear them on the days when I don’t want to wear my dirty walking
shoes.  They are great!  Thank you!

This week was really good!! But sometimes it’s really hard.  I would
say that the hardest thing is just feeling overwhelmed with how much
work there is to do.  There are a lot of family problems here.  I
won’t get into them, but its very taxing to listen to them all.  Its
emotionally draining because there is a point where you just don’t
know what to say.  There are a lot of menos activos here as well.  Its
overwhelming.  But the best thing was that 5 menos activos of ours
came to church this week!  I loved  it so much!  I think that they
usually need a friend or need to know that someone is wanting to see
them.  And that is an example of how rewarding missionary work is.
Yes you feel very sad about everyones trials, but then they come to
church its all better and worth it.

This next month is something they call Carnival.  I don’t know
everything about it but I do know that it includes throwing water
balloons at people.  Yes, it’s not February yet and Hermana Holland and
I have already gotten hit.  Ungooglable fact about Peru:  Their aim is
really bad!  WE just got our ankles it but still it was pretty funny!

Every Friday night in our ward we have Noche Misional!  Its like a
party with everyone every week!  It’s the best and this time we played
a game called the Bomba!! Its way funny and easy to play!  I found
myself on the team with a bunch of the kids in the ward,  our team
name was No Se, which is I don’t know in Spanish…. Haha I accidently
chose the name, but it worked out!  Haha The ward is seriously the
best and we had way to much fun playing this game!  I wish I could
explain it to you guys but it will probably take too much time!  Just
know that we laughed a lot and now I have like 7 Latino friends J

Agreeing with dads words, yes you are thrown into a random city in
Peru.  Yes sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing here.
 Buts its always a good day.

  This Book of Mormon challenge is the best.  I have found one of my
favorite chapters.  Chapter 17 of Nephi.  First off, I love when Laman
and Lemuel are complaining about life and saying how they could have
enjoyed all their material things in Jersualam.  They obviously never
had a testimony in their dad the Prophet, or they would know that if
they had stayed they would be about to be destroyed.  And I love the
example of Nephi in this chapter,  He bears his testimony to his
brothers and does so with so much power.  It’s just amazing!  I love
that he had the priesthood power with him in this chapter.    My
favorite thing that he mentions is when he talks about the people that
only needed to look at the serpent to be healed, but because of the
simpleness of the way they didn’t look and were lost.  I thought about
the simple things that the gospel asks us to do, pray, read, attend
church, and how often we don’t do them.  They are simple so why don’t
we do them?  I think a lot of problems could be solved by doing these
things.  The natural man is swift to do iniquity and slow to remember
God.  I know that if we do the small and simple things now that we
will truly grow to be converted in the gospel and be prepared
(especially the youngins) to make eternal covenants in the temple J

Well I love you all to pieces!! Thanks for the support!  Have a great week!

love, Hermana Russell

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Don't be confused .....that's just the way things are here

Hola Familia!

   Well, can I just say I have the best family ever!  Seriously the
letters that you write me make me laugh out loud!  And I just love
reading parts of your testimony each week!  It is the best part of P
day!  Thank you for the support and the love, it makes it a lot easier
to be out here so far from you all.   It has been another great week
in Abancay!  I am loving it here and believe I am living in paradise!
We had a busy but really fun week!

   Some responses from last letter:  First off I want to know if
Sophie got my letter?  I want to track the time so I can make them
more prompt for birthday and things.  So let me know if you ever get.
Also congrats on almost completing your personal progress! That is so
great!  A girl in my ward just got hers on Sunday and her medallion
was gold.  She asked me what color mine was… haha awkward.  I wish I
had been a better example and gotten mine.  It’s probably why I have
to suffer through this mission…haha Chiste!... But really I had and
have a lot to learn.   Hannah you are slacking but I heard about your
job through dad and wanted to say congrats!! Hope you aren’t slacking
off this week!  And one more thing…. Thank you dad for your thoughts
on faith and hope.  There is a lack of hope here and it is very sad.
It’s a really cool experience to teach someone about the plan of
salvation and see the hope in their eyes. Even if it’s just for a
split second.  I am grateful for the hope that the Gospel has given
me.  When you know that there is a point to all your trials and
challenges and life, it makes each day brighter and full of laughter.

                Time for some Ungoogleable facts about Peru!

1.       People play volleyball a lot here!! Like soccer, it’s a
favorite pastime.  Every city has a town plaza, and usually they have
a volleyball net.  The best part is that they are seriously amazing at
volleyball!  Everyone plays and everyone is way good!  I am sure that
the only thing that is keeping them from the Olympic podium is their
lack of height.

2.       Peru does not own window screens.  I haven’t seen one since I
left the CCM.

3.       In Peru you do not need refrigerators.  everything is made so
that it doesn’t need to be kept in a fridge.   Yougurt, milk, butter,
you name it!  Hermana Rene has a fridge but the only thing in it is
mayo.  Remember this fact because I have a story about it.

4.       IN Peru they only use one cup when they give you a drink, so
if someone opens a bottle of soda or coke, you pass around one cup and
share it with everyone.  Of course I haven’t done this because they
will usually give me my own cup, but I have seen it done, and let’s
just say it makes the soda last a lot longer.  This may be why they do

5.        Mormon standard time in Utah has nothing on Mormon standard
time in Peru.  Just this week we waited one hour for a meeting to
start. And Hermana Sandberg said last week a meeting started 1 hour
and 45 minutes late.  That’s just their culture.

   This week has been really hard but tons of fun!  Last P day we went
to Hermana Rene’s Chacra.  It’s on the hills of Abancay and it’s
beautiful.  We walked there with her family and took their family dog
Shadow.   (Update on him: He got bit by a tiny tiny tiny dog and spent
most of the week whining at the bottom of the stairs… I guess he knows
how the poor duck felt).  Anyways Dogs are very very very territorial
here.  IF you are a dog you do not go to another neighborhood.
Especially if you are not a street dog.  So we walk through a
neighborhood called Victor Acosta, which is basically like the suburbs
of Abancay.   Dogs just come out of the nowhere, barking and growling
at shadow!!  I think I counted at least 12 dogs.  It was probably one
of the scariest/funniest things I have ever seen.  Robert  (Rene’s
husband)  is just tranquilo through the whole thing.  He just keeps
walking and walking!   So then we go to the Chacra.  It was like
stepping back in pioneer time.  I downloaded pictures of the house
there to drop box.  But anyhoo, we walked back but this time we were
prepared.  We all had sticks and rocks in our hands, and walked
through Victor Acosta!  All the dogs came out and even people were
looking through their doors and windows at us.  Haha two gringas with
this family!  I’m sure it was a sight to see!  We laughed the whole
time and the dogs left us alone!   It was something out of a movie for

    One day this week we stopped by Yaneths and taught English to her
and her brothers.  It was super fun.  It’s good to teach the kids how
to speak English in their youth because they don’t have such a heavy
accent.  Her little brother Jose knew a surprisingly amount of nouns,
and he asked how to say “you are” and then he proceeded to say “you
are a seat, you are a chicken, you are a cow”  Pretty hilarious!  It
was fun to talk to them and hear them speak English.  Their accents
are thick and I am sure that’s what I sound like!

                A couple nights ago we were sitting down for dinner
with Rene’s family and we couldn’t find the butter.  We looked
everywhere for it.  And we couldn’t find it so we sit down and a
couple minutes later.  Dianet whispers in my ear, “I know where the
butter is…. It’s on the roof!”   Before I could ask why she ran
upstairs to get it!  Hermana Holland, Rene and I Just laughed and
laughed.  I guess Her and Sebast had a picnic up there and forgot
about it.  And I guess that is why the butter doesn’t need to be
refrigerated here.

    Anyways  its been a really good week and it finished on a really
great note.   On Sunday we had a lesson with Carolina.  She didn’t
come to church so we were really worried.  WE took a member with us
named Lisbenia.  She is 19 and is preparing to go a mission!  Her and
I are best friends!  Anyways we go to Carolina and something’s
different.  She doesn’t run up to us and she doesn’t invite us inside.
So we sit outside on this beautiful hill in a meadow overlooking
Abancay, and the sun is setting.  (you need to picture this).   We
talk to her and she tells us that her parents are absolutely against
her getting baptized, and Carolina tells us that she doesn’t think she
will be ready for her baptism.  My heart just sank and I realized for
the first time the real reason why missionary work is hard.  I didn’t
know what to say and either did Hermana Holland, But Lisbenia, bless
her heart, She just starts sharing her conversion story.   She was the
first member to join the church and since then four of her siblings
have join.  Her parents haven’t yet.  She talked to Carolina about how
she needs to be example now and how God sent her these missionaries
and that she might not get another opportunity to join this Church.
It was the most powerful testimony ever and it set the tone for the
rest of the lesson.  We just shared our testimonies with her and
taught her the doctrine of Christ.   Carolina felt the spirit and at
the end of the lesson she prayed and it was the most powerful prayer I
have ever heard.  There we were kneeling in this beautiful meadow, and
it was thundering and lightening all around us.  Carolina asked for
the strength to overcome this trial and asked Heavenly Father that her
parents hearts would soften.  It was amazing. Wow.  The spirit was so
strong and I don’t know whats going to happen in two weeks.  But I do
know now that Carolina has a testimony and that she knows this church
is true.  IT was truly powerful.  I believe there is a power that
comes from bearing testimony.  I am grateful for Lisbenia and her
willingness to share her testimony.

     Well that is all!  Love you all so much!  I have been so blessed
in my life and I hope everyone is reading their book of Mormons! J
Till next time!

                    Hermana Russell
Hermana Russell and Hermana Holland dressed in traditional Peruvian dance attire

Monday, January 12, 2015

Peru: 12 weeks into the mission

Hola Familia!

  It’s been a great week here in Abancay. It is surprisingly really
hard to get back into missionary work after not doing it while we
finished our room.  But a new change just started and we are super
excited for it! Hermana Holland is the best and we have a great
friendship! Have I mentioned that she is a dancer? Yeah She’s pretty

   I have a lot of responses, and they are a little scattered so bare
with me.  First, I loved the Smith and Edward stories!  That store is
the Bomb!! I would like to take Shelby there, so Sophie you should
take Shelby!  Shelby I know that you would love it.

   Dad: No yellow underwear was given out or received, but an Elder
did dress up in all yellow on New Year’s Day because it represents
prosperity.  That day he found 200 soles in the street… so I guess it

   Grace: They celebrate all their holidays here with lots of
fireworks and huge all-day parties.  It’s kind of dangerous for us
Gringas.  News year eve my companion tried to wake me up at midnight.
I guess there was really cool fireworks all over the city, but I was
sound asleep.

   Shelby: I got your package!! Thank you so much! It made me laugh
and I was inspired by your note! You are the best

  I also received Christmas Cards from Mike and Melise and Spencer and
Morgan Ann!  Thank you guys! I loved the pictures and felt lots of
love.  I also got a Christmas card from the Stake Presidency, so Dad
will you let them know I say Gracias!

  This week was really hard! We had a lot of appointments fall through
and sometimes felt like we spent the day just walking from one hill to
another, but we also had a lot of fun as always.  Last P day we made
Oreo truffles for fun!  They turned out really good besides one minor
detail.  We bought the wrong dipping chocolate… It was so gross, but
Hermana Rene saved the day and decided we would roll them in powder
sugar.  They looked a lot better that way, and they were so good! Her
kids loved them, but it was an expensive treat so we will see if we
make them again!

   President/Elder Sandberg’s Birthday was this week.  Hermana Rene is
the Relief Society President so she made him a cake and we just
happened to be home when they were going to surprise him. The
Sandberg’s were visiting Renes Brother who lives next door, but their
houses are connected, so Hermana Rene and we are carrying this huge
cake made out of jello.  Very wobbly!  Anyways, we are standing
outside this door and Hermana Rene just starts laughing, and I of
course couldn’t not laugh, but it was the hush laughing you know…
hahaha anyways, I don’t know what was funny but Hermana Rene just
cracked me up! She is a very serious person, but when she laughs,
which she does a lot with us, We just laugh and laugh!! J We have to
watch the clock at dinner or we would never get to bed!  Also their
dog Shadow, the one that followed us, he bit a duck and now he is
being sent to the Chacra! This is like the farm!  He thinks the ducks
are stuffed animals!

   My favorite thing we did this week was an activity with the Mujeres
Jovenes, Young women!! It felt like home! But we taught them how to
make popcorn balls!! Crazy huh?  It took me till I was in Peru to make
these, but it brought back a lot of memories of orange popcorn balls
and my Grandma Russell.  They turned out really well, and it was a
tender mercy to reflect a little on Grandma Russell.  It made me
excited for the work, because I know she is a great missionary now!
She really loved service and I hope I can channel that love! We also
taught them Ballet!! Hermana Holland loves ballet, and the girls were
so eager to learn! It was super fun to dance again! The young women
are really great here, and Yanth came and our investigator Carolina!
Pictures are included!

  Alright now time for Ungoogleable facts about Peru! Or UFP:

1.      It is custom, and this may be googleable, but Everyone says Hi
to everyone and also good bye! It’s custom to kiss on the cheek when
you meet someone.  This morning Sebastian came down for breakfast and
didn’t say hi to us, so Rene made him go back upstairs and come back
down and greet everyone. Sebastian left and went all the way upstairs
and then came down and said BUENOS DIAS HERMANAS! It was hilarious but
I think it’s a really polite and cool part of the cultural.  At church
you literally have to greet everyone! I like that too!

2.      Did I mention along with the shower curtain there is no toilet
seat.  Honestly after a week of not having one, I can honestly say you
don’t need one and also less to clean right??

3.      Everyone here sweeps waters.  You do not wipe it up, you sweep

it out of your house and you spread it around.  It’s much faster!

4.      And fourth, for some reason there are giant holes in the
ground, right in the middle of the sidewalk.  You always have to look
down! A girl really messed up her knee falling into one.  I don’t know
why they don’t feel them in. They literally have a unlimited supply
of cement here.

Well that’s all folks! I will for sure have some more for next time! I
love Abancay! We are literally in a tropical area! We were walking
through some fields the other day trying to find a house and we walked
past a avocado tree!  Um.. Its heaven here! The best!

  I hope everyone is reading their books of Mormon!  I have really
loved it and have found the greatest gems just in the first 20 pages!
Hermana Holland and I are going to make a Nephi quote wall because he
says the best one liners!

  I also found a scripture that I absolutely loved this week. In
Mosiah 4: 9-10, King Benjamin is just the coolest and I love this
scripture because it really demonstrates how faith is an action word.
And after we believe all these things we need to DO THEM! That is key,
faith without works is really really dead. J So this week I have been
working on showing my faith and going beyond just believing but doing.
I think that’s one of my favorite scriptures.

   Well It’s true I have the best family! Thanks for your hilarious
stories and making me laugh!  I am loving it out here so don’t worry
about me! And I promise with all the play this week we have been
working really hard.  Missionary work is the best!

      Con amor,

                         Hermana Russell

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year from Abancay

Happy New Year everyone!!
                                I don`t have much to say this week
because we worked all week on our new room.  We sanded the walls,
painted, cleaned up, and moved!  Woo!! It is so nice to be living
with our pension.  But it was a really hard break, we didn`t hardly
study and do any missionary work.  It was so weird! I miss missionary
work and I am excited to get back to our normal busy schedule!
Well Can I just say I have the most hilarious family ever!! I just
laughed out loud at all your stories and felt incredibly blessed.  I
loved hearing Christmas from everyone’s different perspectives.  I also
love hearing each of your testimonies. That is honestly one of the
greatest things ever. Wow.  I am so blessed to have family and friends
so strong in the gospel.  I love you guys!!       So like I said we
moved this week, luckily the Elders helped us a lot! We couldn’t have
done it without them.  They found a member with a truck and we took
too trips down and back up our hill to take all of our stuff.  I wish
I had gotten a picture of this, but picture it in your minds.  First
off the driver of the truck was 14 (there really are absolutely laws
here) and we had two desks, beds, bed frames, dresser, and book shelf,
they loaded everything in the truck and it’s practically hanging out.
Two Elders get in the back and are literally holding everything in the
truck with their bodies hanging off the end.  Then they go down a dirt
road that is so steep, probably like 75 degrees and a fourteen year
old driver.  Hermana Holland and I just laughed and laughed!  WE
believe that boys secretly like that stuff.    Anyways it’s been nice
to move but I didn`t like the break.
                                                          This week we
also did a service project with the missionaries and we scraped
campaign posters off the telephone poles. Non google able fact: they
super glue them to the poles.  ha-ha It was good though :)
          Fast Sunday was this week, and to answer Grace`s question a
couple weeks ago, the spirit in those meetings is so great!! Everyone
bears their testimony! EVERYONE! And for like 2 minutes on a specific
gospel doctrine! Like it really is amazing!! I love it because we can
bring investigators and we know that they will feel the spirit!  The
rama here is great and the goal for them is to become a ward and a
stake pretty soon!  But we need to reactivate a lot of people, and the
ward needs to start sacrificing, because sacrifice brings the
blessings of heaven :)  ON a church note, Carolina came! We were only
able to visit her on Tuesday and Thursday, so we didn`t know if she
would remember the time change, but she did! It was awesome to see
her, and she is progressing really well.  She has a date for Baptism
at the end of this month, and we are so excited! We feel really
blessed and we have seen tons of miracles has we have opened this
                     Did I mention how cold it is here? Our room is
freezing! It’s all cement here so it traps in the cold.  I sleep with
all my sweaters on and socks and I think I am pulling a dad and
sleeping with a hat on tonight :) It’s raining so hard right now, but
luckily the Hermana before me left her rain boots, and guess what we
are the same size! Tender Mercy for sure!! I am currently wearing wool
socks, a hat, scarf, and sweater and my rain coat, and normal
missionary clothes! It makes me feel like I am back in Utah or Oregon,
because It rains way too much to be Utah (:  Ha-ha  Love the cold but
don`t love the luke warm shower :)
      The non-google able facts for this week are 1. stoplights are
optional here, 2. People pass people on the street, like its Nascar
here!  People pass people on corners where they have no idea what’s
around the corner! It’s so scary! 3.  People don`t have security
systems, they just have dogs :)

       Ellie:  Thanks for the advice you shared about staying busy.
We are so busy here it’s crazy!  WE study for four hours in the
morning, and then usually have appointments every hour on the hour.
It’s very busy, but the days go by really really fast!  I am almost
done with the first half of my training, and only probably have 7
weeks left with Hna. Holland and in Abancay!  So The Book of Mormon
challenge is in full swing, Mom you have it right so spread the word.
I read the first ten pages this week and HOLY COW! Who doesn`t love
Nephi! The first chapter is seriously amazing.  Things that stood out
to me was the faith of Lehi and Nephi and the obedience that comes
through faith.  Hna Holland and I only want to read the book of Mormon
now! It’s so good we don`t want to put it down! Ha-ha Love it!
Sophie: Haz lo Justo! Do the right! yeah pretty sweet! Like Nike, Just
do it! And soph, I always feel like I am in nacho libre only I am
missing my estephen, but I will be your Ignacio :)
                                      Well family I just love you guys
so much!  Thanks for the support and the love! And the hilarious
stories! p.s. I ate Cui this week! Pictures in the drop box!! Well I
just adore being a missionary!  Keep reading the book of Mormon and
take your time!! Feast upon the words of Christ!!
         Love, Hermana Russell
P.s. my favorite line of the week was from grace, “I got pizza, it
was huge!” Love you sweet heart!!