Monday, February 23, 2015

Every day is a Hike

February 23, 2015
Mi amores!!

                Changes are today and as of right now I have no idea.
I am sure that I will know by the end of this email.  Anyway, to not
think about that or that I am officially done with my training I will
share some responses.  I just want to first say how hilarious my
family is!  You guys never fail to make me smile and your testimonies
strengthen my own.  Please keep it up!  I read every word even if I
don´t respond to everything. Primero, Sofie! You looked so gorgeous
and I am so glad that you had a good time at the dance.  Your stories
made me laugh out loud.  Mom you asked about mud and the rain.  It
rains basically every day usually in the mornings or at night.  I am
really glad we live in Tamburco on top of a hill because all the rain
runs down to Abancay.  But yes there is a ton of mud! And yes everyday
is a hike! But we walk way faster than the natives here and they are
always impressed when they accompany us. Sofie  I laughed when you
said Mi amor!  People call us that all the time! Hahah!  Also sofie,
thank you for your story about your temple class. First off I think
that it is way cool you have a temple prep class!! If you can keep
that goal in mind everyday you will reach it!! So awesome!! And second
I am really proud of you for following the spirit and speaking up.
The temple is something very dear to me and every day I am grateful
for the things I have learned inside of its walls. It will be a great
power to those who make it there. Also always dare to be Mormon!  Even
when you are surrounded by them, It is no excuse.  And dear Grace!
You asked if the mission was the hardest thing I have ever done and
what it compares to. Well I can say that yes it is very hard and I
don´t have a lot to compare it to.  But I studied a talk this morning
from last General conference. I can´t remember what talk but he said
that when we build our foundation on Christ we will be able to adjust
to difficulties or adversity that comes are way.  I am not saying
that my mission is an affliction or a trial, but I feel very grateful
for a testimony that can get me through the little challenges that

            Well I have three Ungoogleable facts about Peru.

1.      Dogs here eat whole bones. Shadow is literally the garbage
disposal in this family and he will literally eat everything.  He
chews on the bones for a second and then swallows. According to
Sebast, every dog does this.

2.      Sometimes they have a neighborhood party where they plant a
tree in the middle of the road, cement road, hang plastic colorful
things on it, dance around it all night, then chop it down around 4 in
the morning. This may be googleable.

3.      The police here are a little different then the police in the
states. Our neighbors had a huge party the other night.  They had
music so loud playing all night long.  But however you do not call the
cops to stop it.  They don´t even think of that.

Well that’s basically all…I will think of better ones.  Just know that
I really do love and adore the people here!  They are hilarious and
have such amazing testimonies!  The cultural is a little different but
I love it too!

This week the district leader and his companion taught me how to speak
in an Argentinean accent.  I guess I´m better at it than a regular
Spanish accent because they said I sounded legit.    Spanish is
becoming a lot easier and a lot more natural.  I love this language!!
It’s so much more fun to speak Spanish. Their stories are the best
here because of the language.  I don´t know how to explain it but
things are just a whole lot funnier.

 So I still don´t know about changes which is killing me!! But
Carolina had her interview on Sunday and passed with flying colors!!
Elder Segura said she is ready to be a missionary!!  Fun Fact.  She is
just two months older than the twins!  Crazy, cause she seems older!!
But we are so excited for her!!  It has been amazing to watch the
change in her.  Granted she didn´t have too much to change but I know
that when you apply the Doctrine of Christ and read and pray every
day.  Your life will change!  I feel so lucky to have taught her and
been with her through every up and down.  It is exhausting at times
but so rewarding!! I don´t know if I will be at her baptism, but
that’s not important!  I will always remember her!

Sorry not a whole lot to write about. Transfers are still on my mind.
Love you all tons!!  Remember to continue to apply the doctrine of
Christ each day!!

  Con mucho amor,

                             Hermana Russell

Sophie's little blue truck is in Peru!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 11

Hola Famila!!
It has been a wonderful wonderful week!!  Week eleven in my training means that I am in charge of everything!! I was super nervous but I learned that I can actually speak Spanish and understand (a little) over a telephone! YIPEE!
                For some responses.  Dad, I actually know a ton of people who speak quechua!  There is actually a class at the church that is taught in Quechua!   I have learned how to say My name is, and eye.  Lots of kids can understand it and I am finding that lots of teenagers can speak it too.  Its really cool!! Hermana Holland knows a little more because where she was born they speak it a lot!!   Also for everyone´s information, every day is a hike.  Literally we are always walking through fields, up really steep hills, or right by bulls and cows.  It’s definitely an adventure and I always end up thinking  “How did I end up here?”  Not on a mission, but like when I´m climbing up a mud hill in the pouring rain… maybe I wasn´t so good at leading us this week.   OH and mom don´t worry about pushups or exercises!  We are getting them in.  We usually run around a block or two in the morning and that includes half up hill… Yes my calves are in good shape but I get my push ups in too.
For the ungoogleable facts about Peru this week
1.       They all have a whiney voice that they like to use.  Especially the elderly ladies.  Its actually quite funny and Hermana Holland and I always use it to be funny!
2.       The weather does not affect the shoe choice here,  When its pouring rain and super super super muddy they are still rockin the crocks….  And sometimes I think “Why not?”  They are way easier to clean!!!  They also where flip flops in the pouring rain!
3.       The power goes out here like all the time and its no big deal!  Can´t use your electric stove…That´s okay just start a fire in your house!   I am not joking I have experienced this all time!
This week for valentines day we went out to eat with Rene´s family!!! It was so good but so strange!! All I could think was wow am I really in Peru!! And am I really speaking Spanish!!  We just love Rene´s family and we love when her husband is in town too!! They are like our parents and always give us counsel on what to eat and if it’s raining Herman a Rene tells us not to work…l but we don´t listen to that advice!!   They really are the best.
Something funny and a little scary that happened this week.  Hermana Holland and I found ourselves in a lesson that went a little longer than planned and we were in a dark area at night and there happened to be party music playing which means a little drinking and it was raining.  We were trying to walk really fast to the area where there was more light.  Anyways I couldn´t see really well and was falling behind trying to avoid the puddles!  Anyways I hear people running behind me and screaming and shouting and it sounded like a bunch of men… I was so scared I really thought they were running for us and I was planning on what I could hit them with.  It was probably the scariest moment so far…  Anyways it gets closer and closer and Hermana Holland and I walk a little faster, but then Hermana Holland turns around and sees three of Elders,  our district leader, his companion, and the zone leader…They saw us ahead and ran at us to scare us!  Wow it worked and they got a kick out of it… They are really lucky they didn´t get a REAL kick out of it.  Elders think they are so hilarious!!
 So After a couple weeks of little success we finally saw the fruits of our labors.   Three of our investigators came to church, and 6 of the menos activos we have been working with.  We were so happy and surprised!!  It rained a lot Sunday and we thought that would be used as an excuse for some of our investigators.  But we were excited to see them and experienced a little stress getting them all to the correct classes.  It truly was a blessing from the Lord after a couple rough Sundays.
      We are so excited for one of our investigators Carolina!  She is fourteen years old and we have been teaching her for almost three months.   I have seen a great change in her and I believe she has a very strong testimony.  She has come to church 6 times and is already part of the young womens.  We need to get her a personal progress book pronto!  Anyways the only thing we lacked was permission from her parents.  They live in Cusco and only visit so often.  Carolina is taken care of by her grandmother.  This week they came to visit and we finally got to talk to them yesterday.  We brought Hermana Rene with us, who was crucial in this lesson.  We were able to answer her mother’s questions and I could feel the spirit there.  It was amazing.   Hermana Rene shared her conversion story and we shared our testimonies.    We saw a miracle when her mom called her dad in and together they gave Carolina permission.  They hugged her and congratulated her!   I know that God softened their hearts and that our prayers were answered.  It was a wonderful moment.   She is set to be baptized February 28.  We are so excited!! Carolina is a wonderful girl and I know that she will be a strong faithful member!.  I just hope I´ll be around for her baptism but with changes in a week, I have no idea.
    This week I studied a lot about the Book of Mormon.  It is truly the keystone of our religion.  I am 100 percent positive that if all the members read it and studied it, there would be a change here in Tamburco.  Usually all the menos activos we visit are not reading the Book of Mormon.  I know that the key to enduring to the end is having a continuous study of that book.  It is the keystone of our religion.  It is our witness of Jesus Christ, witness of the Doctrine of Christ, and our witness of the Restoration of the Gospel.   I am so grateful for the opportunity to read it and I am truly beginning to understand the importance.   I love it here and we had such a great week full of mini miracles!! I am so grateful for this opportunity and thank you all for the wonderful support!!  I have the best family and friends ever!!
                Con mucho amor,

                                               Hermana Russell

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Rains Come Down and the Bugs Come In

Hola Familia!!

            This week was a tough one, but we had tons of blessings too.  Missionary work doesn´t just include working with investigators, but there is a lot of things we do for the Rama (Branch).  This sometimes, can be a tad frustrating….But I am grateful for the lessons that I learned this week.

            For responses! Every week at least one of you mentions that they are surprised I am in Peru sometimes….I have the same feeling almost every week. What’s even more surprising is that I am speaking a language.  Yes I am Peru….CRASY!  Sophie I loved your date stories and want you to know that Latinos are hilarious!  This week teaching English Class was absolutely hysterical!!     I don´t know why I wrote this in my notebook, but I think my sisters sound really wise and old…. LOVE YOU GUYS!!   If you can Grace and El, try to find Neverland or at least stop growing.   Dad: Sometimes I feel like all I am doing is planting seeds, It can be a little hard, but I know that it is a good seed but it will grow. OH and dad, last time you mentioned a really high town north of Juliaca­…. Well My trainer, Hermana Holland was born, not literally but started her mission, in a town north of Juliaca called Ayadivi.  Its 1400 feet and she was basically freezing the whole time.   Now she is really tough!

Also THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE!!  It was awesome! Thanks Mom you are the best!!

            Anyway for the Ungoogeable facts about Peru!

1.      Sometimes for dessert we will just have a cup of whip cream. It’s completely normal here. They usually just eat it plan….Also random fact I just thought of…Sometimes they make jello, but instead  of letting it harden and firm up in the fridge. They just drink it. So I have had plenty of Jello drinks.

2.      Flies fly slower here…. I don´t know why but they do.  I have become really good at killing them. I think me and my friend are ready to go pro.   Also with the rain brings more bugs. I don´t know how they get to the fourth floor where we live, but this past week I have killed bigger bugs than my thumb.  I just think of the commentary about camping by that one comedian and laugh because the bugs really are trying to get in.

Well that’s all folks!!

Last Monday we got together with the YSA in the ward and played various games.  Volleyball, soccer, and some other random games.  Half way through it turned into a water fight like I have never been in before.  They go crazy with the water balloons here. I now know water balloon game that is the best water balloon game ever!! Anyways there was not a inch of me dry and I guess they played gang up on the gringas, because Hermana Holland and I got several buckets of water poured on our heads.  It was thee most fun Pday I have had to date! Whoo!! CARNIVAL!

            English Class this week was way harder than expected.  I don´t ever want to be a teacher! We played a game called Papa se quema, kinda like hot potato, and If you lost you had to read a verse of the Book of Mormon in English…. Well they turned against Hermana Holland and I and always made us lose.  I ended up translating the English verses into Spanish on the demand of the Latinos. It was so hard!  But I did get a standing ovation for translating,  “Lehi lived in a tent¨.  Don´t worry my Spanish is better than that.  ANyhoo we were happy to give the materials back to Hermana Sandberg this morning!

            The elders baptized Moises on Saturday! It was awesome.  I gave a talk on baptism and two of our investigators came.  I have a picture attached!! WE were really so excited for Moises!  He seemed really excited too.  We met his sister at the baptism and now she is really interested!

            This week I studied about patience.   I found one of my favorite Book Of Mormon chapters , Alma 26!   After these missionaries have had a ton of trials, but bear them with patience  they are so full of gratitude for the Lord and Happiness!! It’s the best chapter!  I know that if we bear our trials with patience, the Lord will bless us with tons of success in our lives.  I also read this week about the coming forth of the book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 3.  I love that the Book of Mormon was written to help remind us of our covenants.  I hope we can read it every day and continue to keep our covenants we have made.  I know that If we do this we will endure to the end.!   Well love you guys so much!! Peru is great and I am loving every moment!!! Thanks for the Support!!

                                   Con amor,

                                               Hermana Russell

This is where I live!

This is Moises who was baptized

Monday, February 2, 2015

Choose Happy!


                How is the best family in the world doing ?  Thanks for the amazing letters and all the laughs!! I have had a really good week but also really hard.  The work has gone a little slow lately.  Not a lot of our investigators are progressing and that is really hard.   But I am still loving it and find that there is always something to laugh about at the end of the day.  Literally… there is always something.

So responses:  First I would definitely like to hear about Sophie’s dates because that just made me laugh and laugh…. How incredibly awkward!! Love you Soph!! and of course Disneyland for Mom!  Tell me all about it! Also congrats everyone on grades!  I am sure that you guys will have to help me with math when I get back.  I may be learning a language but I am slowly losing everything else.  Oh and Sophie… Love the dress!! I hope you have the best time!  Dad: water drains the same here… yes I know very boring.  And congrats to the Flinders fam!! You guys make the cutest boys!! Don’t worry Abby, you have 5 other sisters to help you out! J

                For the ungooglable facts about Peru, I will have to go with these two.

1.       If you don’t have crocks, you are absolutely not cool.  Everyone wears crocks here.  Because their houses don’t really have the standard of cleanliness that American houses do, you have to wear shoes all the time and crocks are everyone’s go to.

2.       If you don’t have really cool and pretty handwriting you are also very lame.  People practice their handwriting all the time here.  Sebast has to draw little circles and lines on his grid paper for homework… so now we know the mystery behind the reason for so much grid paper.

Yeah that’s all…. I will think of better ones.

My favorite days are the days when we have an excuse to go to English class.  Latinos are the best and are absolutely hilarious!!   Hermana Sandberg teaches English and they are the best classes!! This week we get to teach them because the Sandbergs are going to Lima!! Woo!! I am so excited and I am sure I will have so many stories to tell you guys.

                Also I included my favorite picture on the mission so far.  Somehow whenever we go on visits with Hermana Rene and fam we end up hiking to who knows where.  This time we ran into a really elderly lady… don’t be alarmed… she actually lead us in the right direction.  And Sebast face is classic….  And the other picture is Hermana Holland and I in hole.  We have a lot of adventures.

   We also had a conference this weekend!! It was great.  President Harbertson is the best president ever.  He is an inspired man and I am excited for this year.  I don’t have a lot of time to tell you all the details but it was just great.

                This week we taught the Law of Chasity to a family.  They are not married, but took the lesson really well.  WE took a couple with us to a lesson later and they bore their testimonies.  They had a similar experience, but any way, they have testimonies unlike anything I have ever heard before.  They are so powerful and the spirit was so strong.    Cesar has a little hard of a heart ,  Beatrice really wants to get married, but Cesar thinks it is a waste of time.  Anyways after this lesson Cesar decided to change his plans to travel and come to church.  They came and brought their little daughter Sophia.  I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I can see a lot of potential in this family.  President Harbertson said we need to focus on finding families and especially priesthood holders, that is how the branch will become a stake.  But this family is the best and we love visiting them.  Cesar loves to talk and tells us some great stories!!  Beatrice is so sweet and loves visiting with us.  We are really excited for them and I feel really blessed to teach them.

   Well I hope everyone is enjoying Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.  Haha  My favorite verse this week is in 1 Nephi 21:15-16.  Because it is a great reminder that we are never forgotten.  Jesus Christ will always have marks in His hands and He will never with draw from us.  It is only us that withdraws from him.  Always remember that the best life this world has ever seen was given for us.  I hope we will never forget our Savior.   This week, I had lots of experiences that strengthened my testimony on the Plan of salvation.   I am so grateful for it and I know that it is true.  I read today that the Gospel is the Plan of Happiness.  I know that right now we only need to press forward steadfastly and live what we have been taught and one day we will return to live with our Heavenly father and our families forever.  I love you guys and I am so lucky to have such wonderful support.  Have a great week!

  Con mucho mucho amor,

                                         Hermana Russell