Monday, July 27, 2015

Another miracle in Huescar

Hola Familia!

Its been a great week here in Puno.  First off I gotta say that I
loved the girls camp prank.  Haha hilarious!  There are girls camps in
Peru.  This week the girls are having their camp.  I don´t know why
they are having it in the coldest time of the year but there you go.
Hermana Quezada says thanks for the package.  She is doing great and
dying of heat in her house.  She recently had a date with a boy in the
temple.   I am asking every week for pictures!   I miss her but I also
love Hermana Minaya!  Its too bad we couldn’t have been a trio.  Oh I
also got Crystals package!  It was so great and I love and adore that
family!  I recently printed pictures of them and just claim them as my
cousins when people ask. Also the elders loved the take5s.  It was the
best to give it to them and watch them  taste America J

Ungoogable fact about Peru:

1.       It doesn’t matter where you are you always answer your cell
phone when someone calls you.  Meetings, during lessons, in ward
council.   Yup it’s definitely a thing.

2.       If a dog enters the chapel during sacrament meeting, you just
let it run around like a crazy and ignore it. During the sacrament
it’s perfectly normal to give it some bread.

3.       If you cant get a hold of the missionaries to ask them to
give a talk… just  assign them anyway…..And let them know after the
sacrament J

Yeah its been a great week here!

Monday for Zone pday we made tacos!  It was actually amazing.  But the
elders couldn’t find tortillas in plaza vea so I told them that
Hermana Minaya and I knew how to make them.  So we made up a recipe
and literally made tortillas.  The elder were asking me where I
learned how to make tortillas and I told them that I didn’t know
because my mom was from the states and my dad was from china…. Jaja
Just kidding dad!   But we made tortillas and they actually looked and
tasted like tortillas.  It was a definite success!

One funny thing that happened this week..  I have been trying to drink
more water and this leads to a little more time in the bathroom.
Hermana Minaya calls it my favorite place.  You guys know well enough
that I inherited this bladder from wonderful mom J  and so during the
afternoon one day I really had to go, so we stopped by some members
and embarrassingly enough I had to ask them for the bathroom.  But
after we were talking and he gave us a referral.  It’s a really good
referral and we were really excited.  As we were leaving Hermana
Minaya, in English, said “Congrats to your bladder!”  it was so funny!
 She has super good English and is working really hard.  Sometimes she
says things so hilarious but shes trying which I appreciate.

Oh I ate liver this week…. Its slightly better than chuño.  A close second.

Tuesday was terrible but it ended good.  It was the birthday of our
district leader and its tradition in Peru to throw eggs and flour on
the person whose birthday it is.  We planned with our pension (because
we are now pensioning at the same place as the elders for dinner and
breakfast) to throw eggs and celebrate his birthday.  We planned
everything and it was perfect.   We were taking a photo with him and
his little slice of cake that we bought when Hermana Eli shoved cake
in his face and then we took out the eggs and flour.  I have a video
that I have to show you guys one day but it is hilarious.  It was the
best because the Elders from Juliaca were there and in the video they
are all screaming and laughing.  Poor guy,  He only has hermanas in
his district.  But hey we are obedient!

So Wednesday we had a wonderful conference with Elder Uceda of the
seventy.  He is so great!  Wow he teaches with such power and you can
tell that he is a servant of God.   He talked to us about walking with
God with a strong faith and a firm mind.   This was so interesting and
he showed us how we should learn to walk with God.  Basically it was a
call to repentance but it was awesome.  He shared with us the
scripture in Moroni 7:30  and talked with us what Godliness meant.  He
said that it means giving your agency to God.  There are so many great
things that he talked about.  He talked about praying more effectively
that we need to shut ourselves out from the world and unplug
ourselves.  That when we pray it is our time to talk to God and we
need to pray with all the energy of the heart.  He can speak English
so sometimes during his lesson he would say certain phrases in
English.  It was such a great conference and I learned so much.

I also had the opportunity to have a personal interview with him.  He
knows all about you guys now…but really he was so cool.  He asked me
about the family, the mission and shared with me great advice and
counsel.  I feel so blessed to have had this chance to talk with him.
He told me some things that I will never forget and helped me be so
excited for the rest of my mission.

This week we witnessed another miracle here in Huascar. One day we had
a cita with a investigator whose son is a member. THe cita was
saturday at 12 and super arriba. So we climbed quinientos stairs to
get to her and she wasn´t there. I expected this because it was
saturday and usually they are shopping. So we went to another cita and
then we went to lunch. After lunch we felt the distinct impression
that we needed to pass by again and check to see if she was home. We
found her husband and her in their store and immediately she grabbed
some chairs and we started to teach them. We thought we would just do
a como comenzar but he asked the question "How did your church start?"
and we started to teach them the Restoration. It was a great lesson
and they understood really well. He was so prepared and at the end of
the lesson he accepted the baptism date for the 15 of august. His wife
did not accept and is a little more hesitant. But they are married! At
the end of the lesson we taught them out to pray and he offered the
prayer. In his prayer he asked God to soften the heart of his wife and
help to realize that this is the truth. It was such a great experience
and I feel like this family is going to be great members.

Well I love you guys so much and I am so grateful for all the support
that you give me.  I hope everything is great at home.  Just know that
I know this church is true and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in
the world, but right here in Huascar Puno.  J

Love you all!

Monday, July 20, 2015

This week in Puno

Hola familia!

I am sorry for writing such a depressing email last week.  Really it
was a great week and it taught me a lot.  This week was good too!
Hermana Minaya is seriously the best.  She´s so funny and we are
always laughing and talking.  I feel like I have known her forever
and not just three weeks.

Primero just want to say congrats to Sophie for passing her AP test.
That´s fantastic!!  Way to go because you’re smart and pretty. J and
just wanted to say that Taysom is the cutest thing ever!  I hope to
have more updates on him later.  And Hannah, I now have 9 months so
feel free to have a baby. J  haha please because I love you and want
to be an aunt!  Also if you could had nutella to the birthday package,
it’s something we´ve been craving.

Well last Pday was the best.  There is a huge slide in the middle of
puno and we went!  It was seriously so much fun that we are going
again today with the Zone.  It´s a pretty wild slide and pretty scary
that there is no supervision and no one to regulate it.  But it was
just like Peru, and one day we will all go down the slide together.
I sent pictures!  And I´m trying to send a video so enjoy J

This week we had zone conference in the WILD!  We went to the beach
and it reminded me of the pictures that you guys sent of haystack rock
(if that´s the name).  IT was so great.  We played and then we had
conference with President.  HE is just so great and Hermana Harbertson
too.  President talked about obedience and talked about how we need to
bury our weapons of rebellion or maybe the little things that we are
doing that are disobedient.  I loved his analogy like always.  I have
a few weapons of rebellion that I need to bury so that I can be more
obedient and have the spirit with me even more.   The next day I went
on splits with Hermana Condie.  She is so cute and even cuter than her
blog!  We had a great day and later they talked to us about loving our
companions.  It´s not hard to love your companion when she is the
best.  I felt really blessed this week to have her as my companion.
Yesterday a young women in our ward accompanied us to all of our
appointments.  We ended the day helping her with her English homework.
(pronunciation so it wasn´t cheating).  We were laughing and talking
and she said that she wanted to be a missionary like us because we
were always happy and laughing.  I just said “yeah it’s the best!” but
deep down inside I wanted to tell her that if we weren´t laughing we
would be crying…. Hahah just kidding.  But not all companionships are
happy.  I am just lucky J

WE also ate chuño again today…… I would just like to say that I ate
every last bite of the soup and watched as Hermana Minaya, the
Peruvian, hide it all in a paper towel.  She has never tried it and
has a deep fear of chuño.    Mom when I am home you can cook whatever
you like because I´ll eat it.  J

Oh and the best was the DANCE FESTIVAL!!!  I felt like I was right
back home in the world of drill.  Every year all the wards present
traditional dances and they all get together.  IT is the most
beautiful thing in the world.  Our ward presented two dances and they
were so great.  I love the costumes and I love that everyone dances.
Old ! Young!  I love this cultural it is really so great!  I will try
to send pictures of that too.

Anyways its been a great week and I feel like I am starting to write
like you guys are writing…. Less and less…. Haha well I just love you
all! I feel so blessed to have such a great support system and family.
I am loving it here in Puno and hope to have tons of cambios here with
Hermana Minaya.  Life is good because we have the Gospel. J  Love you

Hermana Russell

“But by the Grace of God, I am what I am” 1 Cor. 15:10

P Day at the Puno slide

Stake dance festival

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I love you guys

Hola familia!!

This week has been one of the hardest weeks here in my mission but I
think I have experienced one of the biggest miracles of my life too.

First just want to say thank you for the package!  The M&M´s were
seriously the best!  Mom asked me if I see any animals and mostly I
just see sheep and dogs and chickens.  They kind of just roam the
streets.  I defintely see less than I did in Abancay though.  We are
more of a city here in Puno.  The name of my street is Tupac Catari.
We live right behind a huge red school. J  So mom can find me…

Yeah its still cold here especially when the liders of zona ask us for
our blankets to have them washed and we just freeze to death
everynight.  Hahah..  Hermana Minaya keeps referring to titanic.  Its
been super cold and even the people here say its colder than normal.
They also told us that august is the month of winds and I am so not
looking forward to that.

Well Tuesday was probably one of the hardest days ever.  We recieved a
paper that we had to give to our Bishop that had the signature of the
Abuelita that proved we paid her for the month of June.  As we were
walking past her street a store lady came out and ran over to her
house to tell her that we were passing by.  She came out and just
started yelling and screaming.  I think it was the only time in my
mission that i wasn´t grateful that I understood.  She just kept
saying lies and terrible things about us and our religion.   Some of
the things she said are so terrible…  it was so ugly.  It was hard to
stand there and only listen. in this moment I had a million things run
through my mind that I would have liked to say to her, but I am
grateful for the spirit who helped me stay calm and remember who I
represent.  Even though we showed her the paper she didn´t believe us.
Later Hna Minaya hugged me and said that maybe we felt a little bit of
what the Savior felt. I was grateful she reminded me of the Savior and
I am grateful for His example. Even though it wasn´t fair what they
did to Him and He didn´t deserve any of it, he allowed it to happen
and He turned his cheek and forgave them. I am grateful for
experiences like these that help me feel a little bit about what the
Savior felt.  We are going to face so many things like this as members
of the church.  Its so important that we remember that we made a
covenant to represent him.   We got help from the Bishop who had to
call president.  The church ended up paying her beccause she started
going from house to house trying to recruit people to track us down
and maybe throw rocks at us.   All in all I am just glad its over ……
and that is a crazy lady….  Also fun fact: the people of Puno are
really aggressive and they will throw rocks.

And on a happy note!!
After Tuesday, we had a great week! This week we set a goal to ask
referrels from everyone. Its one of the things we are focusing on in
the mission.  On thursday we crossed paths of a member, Hna Marlene.
Usually we would have greeted her and moved on but we asked for a
referrel. Excitingly she gave us one and she showed us from the street
where we were on where they lived. From talking to her we found out
that it was a less active of ten years and she had her family who
weren´t members. Later that night an appointment  fell through so we
decided to knock at this door. She wasn´t home and for the next three
days we kept knocking. Sometime 3 times a day. she was never home.  We
were discouraged.  Sunday came a long  a little back up knowledge… A
lot of the times on Sunday we walk around for five hours because no
one is home.  Everyone goes to their fields or they are at the market.
Its terrible and I usually am so exhausted by the end of the day.
This Sunday we had two appointments with contacts we had made.   I
don´t know if they lied to us or if we weren´t on the right street but
their addresses didn´t exisit and in five mintues all of our back up
to back up plans fell through. With fifty minutes to spare to our next
appotintme we decided to knock one more time at the house of this less
active.. we knocked and... she wasn´t home. I was so frustrated and
not exicted for the rest of the day.  Not far from this house is a
look out of all of Puno. We walked over there and just stood there for
a couple mintues not knowing who we can visit or what should we do.  I
felt so exhausted and tired and I just wanted to go back to the
apartment. After feeling a little sad for myself and saying a little
prayer that the day would pass by quickly we decided to head to
another reference. We started walking away from the house when the son
came out of the house yelling ¨hermanas hermanas!! Vengan Vengan!” I
was like “are you serious?”  He told us that it was his aunt that had
left and not his mom.  his mom was home and told him that we should
enter.  I looked at Hermana Minaya and we were both so surprised… Its
like a miracle to find less acitve people to invite you in. Usually
you are only making apointment and they send you on your way.  At this
moment I felt like a miracle was about to happen.  She invited us in
and we ended up teaching her and her two sons who aren´t members. We
shared with them the message of the restauration and the spirit was so
strong in this lesson.  Because they are younger we asked a lot of
questions and tried to explain very simply.  They understood really
well.  We asked Hermana Sulema to bear her testimoney and it was
amazing.  You could see that she was once again feeling the spirit
after ten years.  She bore her testimoney about Joseph Smith and said
that she wants her to kids to know the Gospel because it will change
their lives.  We challenged them to baptism and put baptisms dates for
each of them. They acepted with enthusiasm. This experience strenthed
my testimoney of asking everyone for referrals and not losing hope. As
missionaries we have to be persistant. We just have to endure to the
end of every day. And I also know that God is preparing people to
listen to us. There our people out there who are praying for our help
and praying for the joy that the Gospel brings.

 I am so grateful for this week.  It taught me so much and I am
seriously loving it.  Hermana Minaya is hilarious!  She is always
laughing and smiling and talking!  She helps me stay excited and even
when we have terrible days and we walk around all day she still
smiles.  I wish you guys could get to know here.   She is literally
the best.  Anyways.  Just want you guys to know that I know this
Gospel is true.  I know Joseph Smith was a called of God and that God
has a plan for each one of us.   Love you guys with all my heart! J

Hermana Russell

Monday, July 6, 2015

You can leave the Abueltia but....

Hola Familia!!

This week has been so great and I have loved being with Hermana
Minaya!  She is from Lima and she is so cute. We were in the same
group at the MTC so it has been fun to talk with her and be able to
understand her this time J

Mom asked me about how I feel about stuff.  Its basicaly unnecessary
in every aspect.  I haven´t had a phone for 6 weeks now and I feel
fine.  At the same time stuff sometimes makes life a little easier but
it doesn´t make life happier.  After all we aren´t like the Egyptians
that believe that all your posessians came with you to the after life,
so yeah stuff is stuff.   Oh and I´ll be getting your package tonight
and just want to thank you in advance.  You are all the BALM.

Also Happy fourth of JULY!!  Whooo we woke up to snow and a freezing
freezing freezing cold day.  It snowed all morning and we listened to
Frozen and had hot chocolate.  I always get the feeling its Christmas
here but yeah no yeah.

Well we are officaly moved out!!! WHOOO! We moved all thrusday and
Hermana Minaya was such a trooper.  It was a long day and we are still
not in our house.  We moved to a temporary apartment that is below the
apartment where we are going to live permantely.   And we are living
with Hermana Love and Hermana Solar!  Its seriously the best!!!  Its
warmer, the bathroom is close and we have water all day long!   But we
are living out of packed bags and its kind of the worse, but…..Hence
the title…. We can leave the abueltia but she won´t leave us alone….
Yeah she is saying we didn´t pay her for the month of June.  But we
did and we have her signature on a paper that says so…. But she came
to church looking for us and she start to yelll and shake her little
fists.  It was really all I could do not to laugh a little.   She
called our bishop and followed behind us all the way up to our pension
screaming.   AHH.   It was hilarious but also one more thing that I
don´t want to have to deal with it.  She started telling everyone in
the neighborhood that we left her alone with out money to pay for her
water or light.   Luckily the bishop is going to help us and we are
going to have to go back and grab our toilet paper because we left it
there…and hopefully she understands.  But oh man I knew that we
wouldn´t leave with out a fight. The best part is that the day we
moved she didn´t say anything to us and almost seemed happy that we
were leaving.  Oh my.  Este Abuelita! Que Drama!

Bueno.  The work was really good this week. We have really good
investigators that are ready and we are planning on resucing a family
where two of the sister are menos activos.   Hermana Minaya is the
best.  She is hilarious and always has hilarious stories to share.  We
talk a lot which I like because time goes by faster especialy when you
are walking for 3 hours without finding one person to visit.  J  But
really.  I am so happy here!  Even though it has been freezing and
with all the problems with the Abuelita, but I am loving it.

I have love reading the book of mormon more carefully and this week I
studied Alma 26. I love this chapter and have read it multiple times
but I saw something this time that I hadn´t seen before. Alma is
talking about the mission and everthing that happened and it causes
him to think about how he once was. How they were sinners and went
around trying to destory they church. He talks about how God had all
reasons in the world to hammer them with the law of justice but
instead of this God reached out to them in mercy and love. I love this
because its so true. God is so merciful and will always give us the
mercy card. I am grateful for the opportunity to repent and improve
each day. I am grateful that God lengthed the days here on earth so
that we would have the opportunity and the blessing to repent and
prepare for when we will return to Him. I love being a missionary and
I am so grateful to be here.  Thanks for all the support.  I love you
guys and pray for you everyday.  I know the Lord has many blessings
for us.  Let us be obedient and try each day to be more like our

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Russell

Hermana Minaya my new companion!