Monday, November 30, 2015

Come and See

Hola familia!

So it has been a crazy and unusual week this week.  Puerto has been
having a strike all this week and it means that we have had to walk
every where and basically that everyone has been home.  It hasn`t
stopped the work so that is really good but it just has made it really
annoying to work.  Nothing has been open and I don`t know how we found
this internet store opened.  I think I have already explained what a
strike is but basically angry men just roam the streets destroying and
block off whole streets.  There isn`t any transportation and it looks
like a zombie apocalypse happened.  There is trash all over the
streets and only people walking around.  Its kind of scary and spooky.
Like the city is abandoned or something.  Also people are running out
of food because no food is coming in and no one is making money to buy
food.  So we have a favorite store on the corner and we usually buy
our snacks there.  Well on Saturday night we stopped by to get some
things for sunday and the store was all closed except for a window
where they were taking orders of what people wanted and then grabbing
it for them.  This is a usual strike thing because of the strike
people come by you have to close everything really fast or they will
destroy your store.  Anyways the owner knows us so he opened his door
for us and we were able to grab the things we needed.  But there was
such  a crowd outside that they didn`t have time to take our money.
We waited patiently and we were cool with it.  Anways the funny part
was that there was so many people looking through the window and
yelling basically about what they needed.  It was like they were
preparing for war.  One lady was asking for so much they just let her
in because she could get it for herself.  Anyways we were just
laughing because this lady came in and just started buying everything!
 Literally she grabbed like 20 candy bars and napkins, breadsticks,
gum!  Everything!  We were laughing pretty hard inside.  I hope the
strike ends soon because its been pretty annoying to have to walk to
the district center which is about 2 miles from our house in 100
degree weather.  Ugh.  Its been so hot this week.  But its better now.
Its raining.

So why do we have to walk to the other chapel every day this week?
Because we are practicing a Christmas song for our Christmas
conference with President.  It’s going to be great but I don`t know
why we have been practicing so much.  I think we are all getting sick
of it because yesterday we had a practice for about 2 hours.  Oh and
we didn`t have church yesterday because of the strike.  Anyways we
were practicing and the elder who is playing the piano starts jazzing
it up and speeding it up so it becomes this jazz slash rock kind of
song.  There was this part where he just stopped playing and all the
elders  scream “A BEACON IN THE NIGHT”  oh man!  It was pretty
hilarious.   I think the heat got to all the missionaries this week.

This might be kind of random but this week during weekly planning
there was a bunch of ants on the floor by my desk.  I didn´t really
know why they were there because there wasn`t any food and I had just
mopped and swept that morning.  Anyways I decided to kill them really
quick with some spray we got so I sprayed it all over and then told
Hermana alailima to be careful because it was a little wet right
there. Now looking back I should of just cleaned it up really fast but
nope.  So we continued planning and I went to the fridge to get some
cereal and when I was walking back to my desk I totally slipped
hardcore.  My cereal flew out of my hands and flew across the room and
I fell right on my back with my feet up in the air.  It hurt but I
couldn`t help but laugh.  We laughed for a pretty long time.  I now
have a nasty bruise on my elbow.  It looks like the strike attacked me
or something.  But I just really don`t like ants but I learned that if
you are going to kill them just make sure you wipe it up with a towel
instead of wiping it up later with your entire body….

Even though we had a strike this week we had a great turnout at the
friendship night!  Which sounds better said in Spanish.  Anyways tons
of people came.  And tons of investigators.  It was on thanksgiving so
we talked about gratitude and went around the circle and said what we
were thankful for. It was a sweet night and a great reminder for
everyone.  Later we played a super fun game that I will  have to
explain later but literally everyone was laughing and crying of
laughter.  It was super fun and I think we will just keep making those
nights bigger and bigger.

So on to the spiritual side… J

We have a great family named Alan and Salomè!  Alan is a member but
less active and Salomè is his wife who is not  a member.  THEY ARE
MARRIED. THEY ARE MARRIED!  Its amazing!  Anyways they have the cutest
little family and Salomè is really interested in the temple and in
being sealed as a family.  I love visiting this sweet family and on
Saturday we shared the plan of salvation with them.  Salomè comes from
a religious family so she has a lot of questions and little doubts.
She always asks them in a respectful way and we always try to answer
them to the best of our abilities.  Sometimes they are really
complicated but we bore our testimony about this wonderful plan and
she said that it all made sense.  After she had lots of questions
about baptisms for the dead and temples.  The spirit was there in the
lesson.  it was just a peaceful and quiet experience.  I think that
she is really going to be able to progress and we want to give her a
baptism date for the 25 of Christmas J which would be so amazing.  I
really hope she decides to read and pray because I know that the Lord
wants her to know that it is true.

This week I ponderized the scripture in mosiah 15:7.  I love this
scripture especially the end, that the will of the son being swallowed
in the will of the father.  What a perfect example the savior gave us
of obedience to God.  I am so grateful for this Christmas season and
especially grateful that our Savior was born.  You all need to go
watch the video that the church just put out.  It’s beautifully done as
always. J we will be using it to contact and to teach this Christmas.

Well I love you all so much.  I was touched this week while reading in
Jesus the Christ about when Christ was first picking his apostles.
Some of them after being chosen went to their friend or brother to
invite him as well to follow Christ.  They said “come and see”.  I
love this so much.  We are invited to come unto the Lord to find out
for ourselves if he really is our savior.  Each one of us has this
responsibility.  To personally find out for ourselves if our redeemer
lives and if he truly laid down his life for each one of us.  I love
the savior and I know that he lives.  How wonderful it is to testify
of Him.
Love you all!

Hermana Russell

Monday, November 23, 2015

Interesting Weekly Update

Hey family!

So right now we are in a strike and we basically risked our lives to
get to this internet.  You are welcome. Just kidding. There was just
angry men blocking the road.  We are entering a strike and its going
to get crazy.  Or that’s what they say.  Supposedly the natives are
going to come with their bow and arrows to fight.  I hope its not too
serious because we have lots of work this week.

Alright so this week was probably one of the best weeks ever.   It was
just fun.  I love being a missionary and I love Hermana Aailima and I
love PUERTO! I never thought I would love it so much.  I don`t feel so
hot anymore and I just love the warm weather and the people.  It’s the
best!    Okay so last Pday we had zone pday and it was pretty great.
We decided to make oreo cheese cake balls.  One of the elders tried
them and asked us if this is why America has diabetes.  Hahaha.
Probably.  Anyway as we were sitting in the hall waiting for our
companions in the bathroom a crazy running cat flew by us and turned a
corner where we knew it was a dead end.  He kind of skidded around the
corner and hit the wall and just kept going.   We knew there was no
way he could get out so we went to look at him and he wasn´t there.
We were so confused!! Me and Hermana Miceli thought that he had jumped
into the ceiling because there was a whole in the ceiling and we were
convinced that was now in the ceiling of the church.  We were laughing
about it, and we just couldn´t believe it!  It was just so marveling
but then we got a little closer and we realized that one of the glass
panels on the door of the church was missing.  Hermana Miceli and I
laughed for a real long time because we had been so gullible.  It was
a memorable moment.  Oh and to make the cheesecake balls we used the
sun to melt the chocolate and literally it did a really good job.  It
was amazing!  The sun is so hot here.  I don´t really understand why
since I am not as close to it as I was in Puno, but yeah its super
crazy hot.   Wednesday we had interviews with Presidente and training
form the assistants  It was probably the most amazing training and
interview that I have ever had.  I was awesome and gave me so much
energy to keep working!  There is so much potential here in Puerto!
So much!  Its just up to us to be obedient to Presidents advice and
keep moving forward.  It was a great day and after Hermana Harbertson
came with us to an appointment in the pouring rain.  We had to walk
through some crazy muddy roads but she was a great sport.  I love her
sweet example and even though she doesn´t speak much Spanish you can
just feel the love she has for the people.

Thursday the Hermana leaders came from Cusco!  They are the best!  We
had a great day and because we were working both in the same sector we
visited a ton of people.  they are the greatest! J  I left with
Hermana Salas and she is the best teacher and taught me a lot about
how to love the people and how to explain and teach with more clarity.
Man she´s the coolest.

Saturday was the best!

We had a cita with recent converts, Sofia and Milagros.  When we got
there they weren´t there so we asked their mom, who isn´t a member, if
we could help her with anything.  She said that we could help her make
empanadas!!  Oh man she makes the best empanadas in all of peru and we
got to help her.  She was so patient.  She just let us go for it and
didn´t get mad when we made mistakes.  They turned out great and she
gave us each three!  Wow they were so great and it was so much fun to
just talk to her and gain a little bit of her trust.  She has been
listening to us but doesn´t want to do anything without her husband
who is stubborn and insists that his family listens and not him…
anyways.  Rosa is her name and she is the best empanada maker ever.
It’s a good thing that she doesn’t sell them in our sector because if
she did we would buy one every day.  After that we had received
permission from our leaders to go buy some things at a store to
prepare us for the strike that is coming because we might not be able
to leave.   We ran over to a store in our sector and there was a man
that kind of hunted us down and asked  “are you guys Mormons?” I said
yes and he told us that he was a member but wasn`t able to attend
because  of work.  He was kind of really weird and I got a bad feeling
about him.  He didn´t know any of the branches names and asked if we
had a phone number.  I said we didn´t and that he could come to the
church at 8 Sunday.   We left and did our quick shopping and when we
were checking out he came up to us again.  He asked us if he had a
book that he could read and then asked for our names and numbers
again.  I told him to just come to the church and we´d give him a
book.  At this point I was just really annoyed and just felt like we
should get out of there.  He said that he was going to go talk to his
boss to see if he could get time off.  He went over to his boss and I
heard them laughing and I just felt like we needed to leave.  So he
came back and tried to grab me so that I could talk to his boss and
explain why he wanted to go to church.  I definitely wasn´t having any
of that so after I dodged him, I told him that we would check out
first and then I would talk to her.  He went back to his shelfing job
and when we had finally checked out I looked at him and he wasn´t
looking at us so we grabbed our huge bags of cereal and yogurt and
calmly walked out the store but when we were out on the street we just
started running/walking to get out of there. We actually turned down a
pretty sketch alley and got pretty lost but it was one of the funniest
things ever.  We laughed so much and couldn´t believe that we had just
ditched this “less active”.  It sounds like a really non missionary
thing to do but he was giving me a weird feeling and did try to touch
me.  So that’s like two very red flags as a missionary.   After we
went to the district activity which were the DANZAS!!  It was so fun.
I love the traditional dances of peru! Our branch did the best one I
have ever seen.  The adults danced and they included a live chicken
and they threw real eggs!  It was marvelous!!!  It was a great
night! LOTS of investigators came and some even danced!  It was
amazing!  I´ll try to send a picture! 

Something that stuck with me this week is something that we talked
about in our training.  We watched a really cool sport clip that you
guys have probably seen but while the player is crossing the field
with a person on the back the coach says, give me your heart, you
promised me your best.  I love this saying.  I promised the Lord that
I would give my all to him. And we all promise that we will do our
best.  We need to give him our heart and keep pushing forward.  We
promised him our best.

I love you guys so much and I am so thankful for all the great support!

Love, Hermana Russell

District Meeting Making Oreo Cake Bites

Monday, November 16, 2015

Missing the Temple

November 16, 2015

Hey fam fam!

This week has been really quite great.  It ended on a really good note
with three investigators in sacrament meeting and two families of less
actives that we are teaching!  I love Sundays because Its kind of the
finale of your week and Its usually always rewarding. In some way.  So
I got your Christmas package this week.  Don´t worry.  I didn´t open
anything I wasn´t supposed to.  I am super excited for the decorations
and the advent calenders! They are so darling!  I love Christmas and
Christmas in the jungle is going to be the best.   wE are hoping that
we don´t have changes before then.

I think its so cool that you got to meet Hermana Holland.  She was a
great missionary and really helped me become who I am today as a
missionary. I will always admire her.

I am so jealous of the radio show!!!  Wow you guys are so cute and I
can´t believe how far mom has come in the football scene.  To think
that she wanted to leave a game early when she was recently married.
Wow!  Dad picked a good one J  Also proof that anyone can change.  But
really it sounds like a great football night.  I still think we should
do a football themed basement with framed jerseys and now a signed
football.  That would be really cool..

Well mom asked about our relief society lessons.  They are a little
different than what you would think but its still relief society.  wE
are using the Ezra taft benson manual and yes it does translate.  It´s
usually a great class but sometimes I need to bring popcorn because it
just gets really off topic.

Um yeah.  I just want to express my gratitude to mom and dad who are
always faithful in writing me.  You guys rock.  I have the two
greatest parents ever.  and for Shelby.  She never fails me.  She is
the best. And for the rest of you I can see that you are all too
gorgeous and popular for your little sister in the jungle.  J but
seriously you guys need to stop being so great.  I can just tell you
guys are becoming amazing young women.

So this week we had a not so regular zone meeting.  WE went to a
backyard and had a tree of life activity with the iron rod.  It was
super well done and super fun.   Hermana Miceli and I fell off first
but in my defense  it wasn´t my fault.  She took my blindfold off.
But we spent the rest of the time tempting everyone else to fall off.
It was a super great experience and after we got the opportunity to
repent and receive the fruit of the tree of life.  J  our zone leader
is ending his mission this Thursday and so he bore his testimony and
it was super powerful.  It made me realize that the mission is the
greatest thing and I am so blessed to be here.  I hope the next months
pass by really slowly.

We found a family that is so great!! They are name Lucy and Washington
and they have a little son.  They are from lima and live right next to
the temple but they live in Puerto for work.  They don´t have any
family here.  wE taught them for the first time this week and it was
so great.  They live in a cute clean little house and their little son
can talk forever!  They were really receptive to our message and I
can´t wait to keep working with them.  The hermanas in another sector
contacted them and then we followed up but it was sure awesome.  It
was an answer to my prayers because I wanted to find a family that we
could work with that could progress.  I just know that they are the
ones that can do it.

wE are also working with a new family of less actives who are awesome.
They are a great family that just need to be reminded of their
covenants.  They came to church and it was so great to see the whole
family there.  We met with them after church and taught them the plan
of salvation.  I think we can rescue them for December and the dad can
be worthy to baptize his little girl who just turned 8. J  they also
gave us the best food I have ever had and I love visiting them and
they love having us over. J  families like this one make me love being
a missionary.

So this week I really missed the temple.  I love the temple and I love
being able to think about my covenants and feel such a protection from
them.   I wish everyone could make it to the temple and I can´t wait
to live closer to one.  I hope that we take advantage of the temple
because its something that is so precious and amazing to me.  J  I
can´t wait to be inside of it with all of you guys one day and I am
going to make a sister temple day so that over the years we can still
get together J  I am so grateful for you guys.  You all rock and I
hope you have  a great week!

Les amo más que la lengua puede decir,

Hermana Russell

Monday, November 9, 2015

Primary Program in Peru


It was so great to hear from you guys this last week!  I love hearing
about the little fun and normal things that you guys do each week.  I
had to laugh at Ellie and grace´s birthday dinner…. REALLY?  Why don´t
you come to peru and eat rice for a year….  You guys should go on a
mission and then you will really appreciate moms good cooking and
options… you will appreciate options.  Mom asked how I teach with
power and authority.  I think it comes from preparing and trying to
have the spirit with you.  Everyday we have two hours of preparing for
the appointments we will have.  I try to study for someone with the
spirit and then when I am in the lesson I also try to follow what the
spirit would have me say.  Sometimes its totally different and I have
to be super ready to do what the spirit wants  me to.  Its kind of
cool because some lessons go really well and they were completely
unplanned.   I am sure that you were set apart mom and that you have a
power and authority to teach and help those in the relief society.

Yes sophie fasting in Puerto is super hard but I think the lord always
blesses us with a cloud covering or a fairly easy day.  The first time
it was super hard but the second time was better.  I tried to be happy
when the branch leaders planned to fast next  week together for some
families.   I am happy… I am really happy.. its going to be great!!! J

I laughed because everyone mentioned Michael Jackson this week and you
guys don´t even know what kind struggle it is.  For the past month we
have had workers working on the house we live in.  They are building a
huge roof which recently they finished and then another apartment next
to us.  Its been pretty loud and annoyoing but the worst is when they
play Michael Jackson music or any popular old time songs….and we are
studying… I just want to get up and sing and dance but I have to say
in my head.. sacred thoughts sacred thoughts… Its been so hard but I
think they will be finishing soon and I can always blast the hymns in
cello version.

Also for day of the dead we didn´t really see anything.  Everyone just
goes to the cementary and outside of the cementary they have a huge
fair.  J

Well this week was really fun but also really hard.  We laughed a lot
but we also walked around a lot.  But it was super nice weather.  It
rained all day and cooled Puerto down a lot.  It was like a tender
mercy.  But it was frustrating.  Also for news of the week my old
companions Hermana Campoverde and Hermana MInaya are Hermana leaders!!
I am so excited for them.!!  I love them so much and we still keep in
good touch.  They are my favorites.

We got caught in a jungle storm this week and we were drenched in a
matter of two seconds.  We also realized that although are bags may be
water proof they are definitely not jungle proof L it was kind of
disappointing and now everything smells like Puerto.

We have continued to teach Nayali.  She is doing great.  She came to
church with us and I am uploading a photo to dropbox right now.  She
is so great.  WE also have plans to rescue a family this month.
Marisol and Benito are awesome!  They have come to church three times
in a row and they are just amazing.  They always love when we visit
them and their kids are active and doing great.  And we are also
visiting a family named Gloria and Miguel.  They are from Chiclayo and
they are so awesome!!  I love  visiting them.  They make us laugh and
are always willing to receive us.  They are great members they just
don´t come to church.  I think they are passing through some really
hard times so we just stop in and try to bring the spirit into their
home.   I will try to get a picture of them soon.  They have boys that
are trying to go on missions and we are in the process of helping them
 get ready.

This Sunday we had the primary program.  I got to say that it was
pretty great.  One of the girls recited all the articles of faith
memorized.  It took a real long time but she did great.  My favorite
part is when I played piano for them as they sang the primary song for
this year.  We had practiced the day before and I was thankful that it
was an easy song. But as I started to play I realized that they really
didn´t know how to follow along with music.  They didn´t hold any note
for four counts or even two and they just kept singing.  I would try
to play the little notes between the measures but they would just
start singing the next part.  It took me so off guard that I just had
to stop and put my head down.  I started laughing so hard I was
shaking.  I was behind this whiteboard so no one could see but man I
didn´t want them to hear that I was laughing so hard. I was just so
caught off guard.  It was so crazy.  And while I was sitting back
there shaking they just kept singing.  And man do they know how to
belt it out.  Anyways after running through it one time I crossed off
all the notes that I would just skip over and I made Hermana Alailima
sing really loud so that they could follow along.  For The actual
performance they really did well.  It was great! Primary programs are
great all around the world.

Well I am running out of time.  I loved this week and was able to
teach the young women in church yesterday. It was so fun to be with
them.  I hadn´t planned a lesson so we talked about how special they
are and how they should really set some standards for their future
husbands.  I made them all write down what they wanted in their future
 husbands…#notsotypicalmissionarylesson  but it was actually pretty
darn great.  I feel like sometimes people don´t ever tell them how
special they are and how they actually need to put their foot down and
stick to their standards.   God loves them and wants the best for them
and I do too!

wEll If I learned anything this week it would be that we all need to
just treat and love everyone better.  Everyone is going through hard
times and sometimes we just don´t know that something we´ll say can
really offend them.  Being the confidant of many people I sometimes
cringe when I hear others talking bad about them or saying mean things
to them and I know what they are going through.  Its so hard.  But you
just have to love everyone and try to see them as who they are and how
God sees them.  Its something that I know I need to work, but I am
grateful to be able to be a missionary because I feel like I really
get to practice a lot.   Well I love you guys a lot and hope you have
a great day! And week!

Love Hermana Russell

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Scary Halloween

Hey family!
Its been a crazy week this week.  I am on kind of on a sketchy
computer so I have decided not to plug my camera in.  So even though I
saw a monkey this week I will not send pictures.
Oh and good news from Puno:! Our investigator Juana got
baptized!!!!!! I am so happy for her. 
The pictures were super cute and it just was so exciting to see her
finally in the waters of baptism!
Well just in time for Halloween I got your packages!!  I loved all the
letters and especially when Hannah said “Enjoy the treats” and there
were no treats….But I enjoyed all the letters from yall and the young
women.  The young women are the best!
Also the jacket is so cute and it came just in time.  It has been
raining off and on for the past couple days and it has been so nice.
The only problem is that it’s kind of chilly and we still only have
cold water.
Also I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the five greatest people ever.  I
can`t believe how old the twins are.  That is just crazy.  I am glad I
will miss their first stages of driving and I expect one of them to
drive me home from the airport.   Wow….
This week was super busy and Î am happy to say that next week is too.
We are the only missionaries in the branch and sometimes I feel
Over whelmed with how big our sector is and how much we have to do.
everyone needs a visit from us and we made a goal this change to visit
all the members at least once.  I think people here just need more
love and love and love.   So we are going to just love them so much!
WE got caught in a crazy thunderstorm this week. Here  it can go from
sunny to downpour in one second and that’s what happened.  We were
running to someones house to visit them.  We got all soaking wet and
then we got there and the power had gone out.  We just sat in the dark
until the rain died down just a little.  wE couldn`t hear anything and
it was just crazy.  wE cut through a huge swamp this week and I was
really wishing I had some duck dynasty duck hunting suits.  You know
the real nice ones that are like overall… that`d be real handy here.
Since then it has rained almost every day.   We are loving it because
now I am just wet from the rain and not from sweat…..  but when the
sun comes out everything evaporates super fast and then you feel like
you are swimming.  Its crazy.  O Puerto… I love you.
This week we helped the other Hermanas of Puerto clean their new
converts house.  It a very humbly experience for me.  He, right now,
is sick and in the hospital.  He`s not doing so well and the doctors
don`t know what he has.  We decided to help him by cleaning up his
room so that when he comes home it will be all nice and fresh.  Hîs
room was a really small, I would say the size of the laundry room at
home and it was all dirt floor.  About half the room was just junk
that we tried to organize but stopped halfway through due to the
amount of spiders that we found.  WE saw a tarantula and three bull
frogs behind the dresser and loads of dirty laundry.  It’s not that he
is lazy but he cannot walk and he is pretty old.  His family has
abandoned him and really no one is looking after him.  It was a very
humbling experience.  We were able to make only  a dent but I think we
are trying to get the ward involved so that we can lay down cement and
get him a new mattress and sheets.  It was a great service and we
laughed because it was actually a pretty scary Halloween.
Well everything is going good here.  I have great health and a great
companion.  wE are super busy and we are loving it.  Its not too hot in
Puerto so I am happy.   This week I ponderized 2 nephi 22:2 .  I love
this scripture because it’s just perfect.  Christ is our salvation and
our strength. Put your trust in him and he will be with us.   Î love

you guys so much! Have a great day and week!