Monday, March 30, 2015


Hola Familia!!

How is everyone this week? My week was pretty great and It’s crazy to think we only have one week left till changes!!  Can you believe it? It’s flying by people! Anyhoo responses for this week: Grace wanted to know if I felt safe walking around… haha yes I feel safe during the day and at night we avoid the dark unlit areas so we are pretty safe.    So Mom wants to come to Peru… I’ll tell you this that Peru has already become a part of me.  The first sector you start your mission is where you were born, so to speak, and Abancay has become my second home.  People are always saying hi to us and our neighbors always say hi when they see us.  I would of course love for you guys to meet Rene and Carolina. That’d be great! I would love you guys to meet the people, ride in the Combi’s and experience total! So Yes I think it would be pretty awesome to see my parents in Peru.   You guys would love it! So yes maybe you should come  Okay so a strike here is pretty intense.  Everything closes down and if your store is open they will come in and trash it.  People from a nearby pueblo came and that’s why   we watched them pass our house and trash our neighbor’s store.  It’s kind of a free for all so they steal things and hurt people who don’t join them.  Crazy. Days like that I’m grateful for America.  The internet cafes here are just places with lots of computers. I don’t really know how to explain them.  They are pretty crowded because people don’t have internet at home so they “go to the Internet”.  They are popular too for this reason.  If kids have homework that they have to do online or print something they have to “go to internet”.  Or people really love facebook here.  They call it FACE.  So if they want to have time for their face they “go to Internet”.  And fancy.  Haha nothing is fancy here.

Ungoogable fact about Peru:  Sometimes people parade around with  shirts that say American words or phrases.  Sometimes it’s a success and they actually are grammatically correct, Other times know and its either absolutely horrifying or hilarious.  It makes me never want to wear a shirt with phrases in other languages or get a Chinese symbol tattooed on my arm.   For example,  Sebast has a Alvin and the Chipmunk shirt.  The first part is in Spanish, but if you look closely at the drum set it says Alvin and the CHIPHUNKS!  Yeah Hermana Holland and I laughed pretty hard at that.    If anyone wanted to make a skit about Alvin and The chiphunks I would love you forever.  Another Sebast story for ya.  Hermana Holland and I have our favorite candy that we love to buy, it’s about 3 pennies in American money and we can only find them at this one store so we only get them once in a while. Anyways we decided to buy ten because we thought we had mission correlation but it turned out the meeting was canceled so we didn’t know what to do with all of them.  When we got home we decided to put them in the lunch bags of Sebast and Diane.  Well the next day at lunch after they got home from school. We were eating at the table and Sebast came running in with his little crocks and German jersey that he always wears.  He came running in and then before he got to us he slid on his knees and put his little arms in the air and yelled,  “GRACIAS HERMANAS!”  It was the best thing and made us laugh really hard.  He’s the funniest little kid ever! 
This week we finished a lesson a little early and decided to visit a home of a menos actives.  Mauricio is the menos active and right now he is in Lima trying to get surgery on his heart.  His mom is really sweet and has a really hard life.  We decided to stop in and ask her if there was anything we could do for her.  She was a little hesitant at first but she let is in and said we could help her make lunch. Hermana Holland and I decided we would make scrambled eggs for her. (they don’t make them here) Anyways we made them and she thought it was hilarious!  She could not get over what we were doing and afterwards she refused to eat them.  Haha!  It was pretty funny. Later before she left she said that before she came she had been crying and really missing her  son and then we knocked on the door (or more like called her name, because she doesn’t have a door)  And with our crazy gringaness we cheered her up.  I think we may have helped her a little bit and it only took some scrambled eggs.

Last Pday we had a girls day with Hermana Sandberg and the Hermanas in our Zone.  It was so much fun.  Hermana Sandberg is the best and we love talking to her!  She has so many crazy stories and its fun to be in a semi American kitchen.  Also she made us guacamole and queso and Hermana Hunter provided fun fetti cake which was just heavenly!  I wish you guys could meet the Sandbergs!  They are great.  Elder Sandberg just got released as the branch president so it is going to be weird to not see them in sacrament meeting.  Also side note:  Mom I played the piano in sacrament.  Woot woot.  The piano player found out I could play, He happens to also be the ward mission leader, and one of our favorite people so I couldn’t say no to his request.    Now I am the Piano player.  The nice thing is that we always sing the same song for the sacrament and when I asked if I could play another, President Sanchez suggested that I just play the same song because everyone knows it.  I decided I better get better at the left hand if I am going to play the same song every Sunday.  

Edgar came to church this week and brought with him his two sons.  Monica was working and couldn’t come.  But wow Edgar had such a great experience!  In our class for investigators we talked about the Holy Ghost.  It was such a great lesson and in the end Edgar basically shared his testimony and shared how he received his answer that the church was true.  Now they just need to get married and maybe have more time for visits because they only have time together on Sundays.  This experience just strengthened my testimony that Church attendance is so important.  When investigators or menos actives come to church they really learn a lot and I know that it is because the spirit is there.  We have a lesson with him and Monica tonight, so I hope everything goes well!  Saturday we got to watch the Women’s session and thanks to a small tender mercy from God, I understood all of it in Spanish.  I loved the theme about families and I hope that we are all prepared to defend the family in the years to come.  I know that I am ready and being on my mission has only strengthened my testimony that families ARE  a part of God’s plan and that it is in our families where we find true joy and happiness.  I really loved all the talks and I can’t wait to read and study them a little more.  It also made me nervous for what’s happening in the world and what’s going to happen. But for now all we can have is faith in Christ and continue doing the things we promised we would do.  
Well This week Carolina didn’t come to church!  We were so nervous and didn’t know what happened. So we decided to visit her after Church.  When we found her at her house she said that she wanted to talk somewhere else.  We walked a little ways away and sat on some rocks.  She opened up to us and told us that she hadn’t read or prayed all week therefore she felt unworthy to take the sacrament and that is why she didn’t come to church.  I was in awe at this example.  She is fourteen years old and truly understands the importance of the Sacrament. I wish I had been this aware when I was 14 years old. We talked to her about repentance and assured her that she could only ask God to forgive her and that he would.  She was so repentive and really sad for what she did.  She said she could feel a difference in her week.  I am so grateful for her testimony and example.  It makes me want to be better and to really take the sacrament worthily each week.  She is the sweetest girl .Well one last thought.  I was reading in Jacob chapter 4 this week and really liked verse 7.  The Lord shows us our weakness’s so that we can remember his grace and repent of them.  I feel like on my mission all of my weaknesses are right there in front of my face, but I feel grateful for this because then I know what to work on and what to pray for.   It’s something really cool. Anyways love you all so much.  And to my dear sister Sophie,  Keep your head up.  The Lord has a plan for you and don’t you waste one minute of your senior year.  Be a friend to everyone and continue serving. Maybe there is something that you need to do that you couldn’t do as SBO. Remember that I didn’t make two of the three dances that I wanted to my last senior year.  It was upsetting and really hard to go through.  AT times I just wanted to quit.  But now that I look back on it I realized that the Lord needed me to be focused on other things. Trust in the Lord and press forward with lots of faith.  lOve you sis.

Love everyone so much, Hermana Russell

Monday, March 16, 2015

Personal Progress in Abancay

March 16, 2015
Hola familia!!
        Sorry for not explaining the machete thing.  (This was the title to Emma’s letter last week and then she never addressed in her letter kinda left us hanging but we figured she was ok )
Hermana Holland was fixing her sock and then I saw this creepy man walking toward us with a machete.  He had a really weird smile on his face.  I wasn´t going to say anything at first because He was kind of far away, but  Hermana Holland took longer than usual fixing her sock and he got closer and closer so I had to say something, and that’s what I said.  Haha It wasquite calm and I was proud of myself.  Luckily we were by Carolina´s so we just ran inside.        Abanacy is having a little bit of a strike so this might be a little shorter than usual.  First responses.  Oh primero I got a package from my favorite family and a valentine from my dear grandma and grandpa! Thank you guys it was awesome to receive.  I have pictures but I don´t think i´m going to download them today because we aren´t in are usual internet cafĂ©.  But thank you for the package!!  Mom don´t worry Carolina has her personal progress book and is probably the most active member of the young womens.  WE have talked to her mom a lot about personal progress and Carolina is already doing it.  Her goal is the temple and mission.  So WHOO! Hannah you asked if we do anything fun at night.  We are usual out teaching until 8:30 every night and then we eat dinner and are at home at 9.  Every Friday night we have a ward activity and Monday night we have family home eveving with the ysa in the branch.  Those nights are fun but honestly everynight we usually have fun!  There´s always something crazy that happens. Tamburco is more of the country of Abancay so its very tranquilo.            Last P day was the best!!  We have the best Hermana leaders here. Hermana Chipunavi and Hermana  Hunter.  They are hilarious and we love spending time with them.  We went to some hot springs in Abancay.  I guess you could call it a mini hike.  It was super fun and I have some really cool pictures.   At one point we had to jump over a river and slide down some rocks on our bottoms, so I guess you can say it was pretty legit.  There also was a wild bull which by the shinanigans of Hermana Chipunavi and Hermana Hunter, we got pass unharmed.  But it was quite the adventure!          Also this week I got attacked by a dog. Luckily I escaped without a scratch but he did have a strong grip on my skirt.  It was pretty terrifying but actually funny now.  The owner came out and literally didn´t do anything or say anything.  Sometimes Its hard not to say anything back.         Bueno, this week was really hard one.  Lots of people are not at home.  WE have some really great humble investigators who want to change but they have a hard time finding time.  I know that if they just had time they would be converted!  But we did see a lot of miracles too.  Yesterday we had a lesson with a family, Monica and Edgar.  WE taught them the plan of salvation and they were so attentive!  Near the end they asked us what they had to do to be baptized!  I love that question.  We told them right up front tha  first they had to get married and they said they would start saving for it.  This family is so great! Edgar had a dream after reading one of the pamphlets we left him and he knows that the church is true. They only thing with them is time.  Monica works 15 hours every day in a factory making cookies.  This is one of the hard things about poverty.  But we keep praying that some how they will find the time and we can teach them.  I love this family and think that we could see a wedding and a baptism real soon.         I was reading in the book of Mormon this week and really liked the chapter in 2 Nephi 26.   Especially verses 24, and 26.  It talks about Christ and how he is always there for us.  His hand is always extended towards us.  Everything that he does and did for us was because He loved and loves us so much.   It is not Him that leaves us,  it is us that leaves Him.  If we only understood how much he cares about us, I know that we would truly accept him and make the necessary changes in our lives.   I am grateful for His love and His mercy and I am truly learning what it really means to apply the doctrine of Christ in my life.   This life is not easy , but it is possible when we grab on to the Savior´s outstretched hand and invite him into our lives.
Val Here : and that is the end of her letter.  Not sure what happened but that is all we got this week! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Great Week in Abancay

Hola Familia!!

                I hope everyone is doing good and that you have all had a great week!  Primero I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! To my first great companion and all time favorite mom!  Feliz Cumpleanos mama!!  Love you so much and I think about you every day and I am extremely grateful for everything you did and do for me to help me get ready for my mission.  You are the BALM!  A mission has helped me realize that I don´t ever want to permanently live very far from my mom. J Hope you have a wonderful day!

                It,s been a great week in Abancay!!  I loved your letters from last week and especially some of the questions. Oh most importantly I loved hearing about BYU!!  That is so exciting and made me realize that I am missing the great sport month every, March madness!  Make sure you fill me in!  Hannah:  you asked me if I ran into drunks very often.  Hahah I don’t really go a day without seeing some kind of side effect of being drunk.  This week I happened to end up in a lesson with a drunk, a very tame one who just passed out on the table.  This was with Hermana Chipunavi in Intimipas for exchanges.  Hermana Holland and I were also driving in a cambi (public transportation) when the driver stopped at a party and a guy came up and handed him up  a cup of beer…. Yeah we said a really faithful prayer in our hearts that that was the first cup he had drunken that day.  Yes but drunks they are everywhere but I always take comfort in the fact that they are seeing what I saw in the beer goggles, and there ain’t no way they can run faster than me.   Word of wisdom blessings no?  Don’t worry mom, Missionaries are protected!!

                More about my language skills: BUEENO, I think I am getting better and I can honestly see a big difference.  Spanish is becoming more natural and I can speak Spanish without having to translate English to Spanish in my head.  Everyday it’s a little easier.  I don’t know if I dream in Spanish  but sometimes I do think in Spanish.  If something funny happens during the day and we are with a member or someone who is fluent, I usually write it in my journal in Spanish just because it doesn’t translate very well.  I love writing in Spanish and I write a lot of thank you cards, birthday cards, and get well cards.  Also I feel like my reading skills have improved because now I can understand the scriptures…sorta…but I have a long way to come.  The hardest part for me now is not translating into English, because some things just don’t translate correctly and you can’t always rely on English grammar.

                How has the absence of media affected me?   Well I can tell you that I absolutely love not having media around me. I can definitely feel a difference.  Now thinking back I don’t know why I listened to that song or thought Instagram was cool.  Not that there was anything crazy bad with the songs I listened to or Instagram, it’s just that I can feel the spirit now more than I ever had.   I can feel it when it leaves and it’s the scariest feeling ever.   The Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts of God and when we are putting other things into our brain we are removing ourselves from the spirit and not reaching our potential.  If you’d let me, I tell you little young ones to put down the media and do something better with your time.  A little media isn’t bad, but when it is hindering your use of a gift from God, it can be way too spiritually damaging.  I could have been a better instrument in the Lord’s hand sooner if I had realized what those small simple things were doing to my spirit.

                Well one more thing… just want to say congrats to Spencer and Morgan ann!!  Calvin is a doll and I can’t wait to meet him!!  Love you guys!

                Okay for ungoogleable facts about Peru.

1.       Every drink you are served here is hot, besides sodas.  Seriously everything else though.  I missed my ice cold water at first but now if it’s not hot  I can’t drink it.

2.       Water gets shut off a lot here for any reason.  We didn’t have  water for a day because a neighbor was filling up his pool or something?   First that wouldn’t fly in the states, and second who has a pool here?

3.       The drivers here have mad reversing skills.  I have seen semi- trucks back down huge narrow and steep dirt roads.  It’s quite amazing that there aren’t more accidents here.  I wish you could all come and experience.  You’d about die.

4.       One more tip on how to drive here.  Before passing an intersection here at 40 miles per hour, make sure you honk really loud so crossing traffic will stop for you, if there is not a honk back,  sigue adelante.

Well this week was really uneventful really, after the baptism and all.  Carolina is doing great and accompanies us to other investigators.  Right now we don’t have a ton of progressing investigators and that’s really hard.  We are working and studying ways to find new investigators and we have been specifically praying to find a family or that one of our families will have time to listen and progress.  Time is really the hard thing here.  People only have time Saturdays and Sundays and then when we stop by they aren’t there.  Frustrating but I know God will answer our prayers.

                I went to Intimpias this Wednesday with Hermana Chipunavi!  She is awesome and I got to practice my Spanish skills even more.  There sector is amazing and they have wonderful investigators and members there.  We were at an members house talking about an activity when I felt something peak my leg.  I looked down to see a Parrot just walking past, normal!  That was a first for me!  Anyways exchanges are the best!   Hermana Chipunavi is really wonderful missionary and sister leader!  She has the vision of her purpose and I think that’s really cool!

                We had a great lesson with a family this week.  Isabel is a menos  activo and her husband Juan!  They are a really cool family and I think we really gained their trust this lesson.  Isabel is expecting a baby boy and she is younger than me!  WE talked to her a little bit before Juan came home and I think we got on her good side. J  We taught them the restoration and it was just a really great lesson!  Juan is awesome and I can really tell that he has a desire to find the truth.  They also said they want to raise this baby boy with good principles and I am convinced that the Gospel will do just that.

                I read a scripture this week that I really liked found in Mosiah 2:41,  Its talking about the blessings of the obedient, how they are spiritual and temporal.  It’s a very simple scripture.  If you want to be happy, keep the commandments.   This kind of happy isn’t the happy you get from getting 100 likes on instagram or finding twenty dollars in the street.  It’s not wordly happiness, its lasting happiness.   You can’t find it any other way.  I know that it is only through keeping the commandments that we will find happiness in this life and the world to come.  I am grateful for my mission because it is teaching me and showing me the things that really make me happy.  This week we were asked to think about what kind of missionary we wanted to be when we got our mission call and what we are like now?  I love this question because it has helped me realize and refocus.  Already I feel like time is slipping past and I have so much to learn and so much to become.  I am grateful for this time though because I know that the Lord has the power to help me change and become who he wants me to become.

                Love you all!! Thanks for the support and the love!  I can feel it all the way in Peru!!  The Lord blesses me with tender mercies every day, sometimes in the form of humor,  don’t worry about me because I am laughing and learning here in Peru and loving it!!

Love Hermana Russell.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Living in the Land of the Nephite

Hola Familia!!

  Sooo I am still in Abancay with Hermana Holland!  We are so excited for this change because we have so many families with potential and we love working together!   And In case you missed it the mountains here look exactly like the back drop of the famous painting of when Christ came to the Americas, so yeah I am basically living in the land of the Nephites.  Abancay is still paradise and all is well here.

                So for responses,  Primero Dad, I loved your email about missionary work when you were a kid.  It has changed so much and one thing I forgot to mention is that we extend the baptismal challenge in the first lesson.  Hermana Holland and I are really good at this and I love it.   The Baptismal challenge is a sure fire way to know where their heart is and what they really want out of your visits. Also Dad I loved your hilarious stories from you trip.  You always have the best things happen to you.  I had a lot of stories like that happen this week but I will have to share them at a later time.  J  So Mom,  Changes in missions happen every 6 weeks, we call them cambios and I do not like them.  You can hardly focus in the mornings.  WE usually get an email or our zone leader will tell us where we are going.  Last week we didn´t get an email but after we signed off the computers we ran into the ZL´s.  So yeah that’s that.  It´s very rare for a trainee and a trainer to stay together like this in our mission, so we are definitely expecting a change next time, but for now we are enjoying every day and working really hard!  Also mom you are hilarious and I love your emails.  Thanks for all the small details of your day!   And last but not least I just want to express how much I love my family and all the friends who right me.  You guys are seriously the funniest, strongest people I know and I am honored to wear our last name on my tag.  It is such a privilege to represent the Russell Family, and don´t worry mom, everyone here uses their dad´s last name and mom´s last name, so the Nelson name gets brought up a lot.

                Well I will just skip to the highlight of this week. Carolina is Baptized!!!   OH man it was such a beautiful beautiful day!   I am so extremely grateful for the opportunity to teach her and watch her progression in the Gospel.  WE had so many ups and downs, but I know that because Carolina applied the doctrine of Christ and read her scriptures every day, she was able to gain a testimony.   Lots of people came to the baptism.  WE made invitations and passed them out to everyone.  Hermana Rene and Candy (YSA)  made a beautiful cake and did so much for us that day!  Hermana Holland and I along with the Elders sang Oh my father but to the tune of Come thou fount of every blessing!  It sounded super awesome I think.  Elder salvatierra can play the guitar really well, and I feel like we all were blessed with the ability to carry a tune.  AT least Hermana Holland was! Anyways I can´t describe how happy I was that day.  I feel like God has blessed me so much and I don´t really know why.  Carolina is amazing and she has a desire to be a missionary and I am so excited for her to accompany us everywhere.  Just wow!  Saturday and Sunday were just fantastic.

                Also one fun thing that happened this week was that I found my CCM teacher in Abancay!  He has been here all summer and had references for us.  It was so fun to get to talk to him and guess what I understood him word for word!! And he was speaking Spanish that time, because he is also fluent in English.  Anyways he gave us some good advice and even though we didn´t get to meet is references it was still wonderful to see a familiar face and laugh about all the funny things in the CCM.  I thought I loved the CCM a lot but being out here in the field I realize how much I didn´t like it.

                I don´t have any ungoogable facts but I do have a funny story.  WE were at NOche misional this Friday and we wanted to start with a hymn.  Michelle (YSA) picked the song Come come Ye Saints, so we all turn to the page and Candy (YSA) says,  “Its not here!” and we all look and its true the whole page is just blank.  Absolutely nothing for the two pages.  WE all laughed a ton and thought it was hilarious.  So she shared with someone else and we started NOche misional.  We played a super fun name called BOMBA!  Its super fun, I will teach you all when I can. But to close we sang another hymn.  Battle Hymn of the republic.  And the same thing happened! Candy opened to two blank pages!  Well we just laughed and laughed!  Haha!  Who knows why it was missing!  But it’s a pretty Peruvian thing to do.

   Well this week has been wonderful!! I am so grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.  Missionary work is hilarious and so much fun, its also very tiring, emotionally and spiritually.  I am learning stuff I would never learn at home.  I love you all and am so grateful for the support and love I feel from here.  Have a great week!

Love, Hermana Russell.