Elder Ty Russell

Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

June 23 2014- Email #101

Family and Friends,

I never thought this day would come… My last e-mail as a missionary.
These last two years have sure been a ride. It may be cliché but I can say
with all assurance that these are the best two years. This last week was
fantastic and I am content with the way my mission finished up. The
experiences that the Lord has blessed me to have here have shaped my life
now and my future as well. I would like to talk a bit about what these last
two years have really meant to me in this last “Saying Goodbye” e-mail.

To begin I would just like to tell about the last miracle that occurred
this past week. The Lord blessed Elder Holmstead, Campbell, and I with
being able to baptize a family this past week. I have been explaining these
past few weeks about a really special family that we have been teaching…
Wendy, Vinicio, Nathan, Frida, and the oldest son Marcos and his wife
Alisson. We baptized Nathan last week, Vinicio is still not a member due to
a divorce process that is taking place, and the rest were all members
except Alisson.

It has been really cool to be teaching and re-activating this family. They
are really special people and we have been focusing in on Alisson for the
last few weeks. She has been going through the process of learning the
principles of the restored Gospel and she learned well and fast. She had a
bit of a difficult decision about being baptized because her entire family
is Catholic and they were not exactly thrilled about her choice in
listening to us and going to church with us. Having her read the Book of
Mormon and pray helped her make the right decision and she was baptized
yesterday after the church services. She was thrilled and the rest of her
husband’s family as well. It was a very special baptism and I know that the
Lord prepared her to receive the truth at this very time. Last week of my
mission and my last baptism. I feel happy.

I have felt as if the Lord has helped me my entire mission have experiences
similar to that of Alisson and others that have either been baptized or
been re-activated. I know that God has his plan that is perfect and I feel
so very honored to have participated in the conversion process of many of
my Father’s children here in Guatemala. I know that by helping others for
these two years I have been much more deeply converted to this wonderful
Gospel that I have been preaching. In every moment that I was fallen I feel
as if God himself sent angels to life me back up. I know that God knows me
and has permitted me to know Him more deeply by being a representative of
His son Jesus Christ.

I feel as if I have developed a very sincere love for the Guatemalan
people. I know that I was called to serve here by revelation. I learned
such humility, patience, long-suffering, and compassion from the Guatemalan
culture the last two years. In D&C 49:24 it talks about how the ancient
Lamanite nation would one day “Blossom as the rose”. I have seen that
prophecy fulfilled. I have absolutely loved being in the church services
here and learning from the great leaders that have been called to lead. I
will miss the Spirit I feel with these people. They are one and only and I
know that many of them have taught me much more than I ever could have
taught them just by their example and disposition to follow Jesus Christ.

Many would say that giving up two years in the service of God and serving a
mission sets you back and you lose precious time to study and work. I know
that out here I have learned and obtained the abilities necessary to be
successful in this life. I will be successful in my life thanks to the
precious time I have had to forget about myself and serve others. I know
God will bless me… He already has. I will continue to serve and love Him
with all my heart, mind, might, and strength just as He asks me to. I have
not been a perfect missionary but I know that I worked hard and I have felt
content with what I have done. Even more importantly I feel as if the Lord
has accepted my offering to him.

I am sad to go but I am excited about my future. I know that I have
completed what the Lord has asked me to do and now I will continue on in my
life trying to do my best to keep serving Him with love and be worthy of
His Spirit always.

I love you all and I am very appreciative for all the support I received
these last two years while being away.

Love,

Elder Ty Michael Russell

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June 16 2014- Email #100

Family and Friends,

Another week down….that is not a good thing these days. Haha I wish there was a rewind button! The mission life is now the only life I remember. To go home will be soooo weird. But I suppose it has to come to an end and I must continue on. I would like to use this opportunity as well to say Happy Birthday to my sweet little 11 year old sister Abby who had her birthday this past week. Happy Birthday Abby! I love you. Also, I must mention my Dad, Mike Russell; Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you as well. Also My Grandpa Russell turned 80 this week! I missed lots of things this past week. Fun times.

Here in Guatemala everything has been going just great. We spent Tuesday-Friday finishing up the interviews for the rest of the mission. It takes lots of time to go to each zone and take care of all the stuff but it is necessary. President got together with us after each round of interviews and we talked about the needs of each zone. This week as a result Elder Holmstead, Elder Campbell, and I have lots of traveling to do so we can do specialized training in the zones that most need help.

We had one sad experience this week…you all remember Wilmer right? He was supposed to get baptized Saturday morning. We showed up to pick him up for his baptism and he wasn’t even home. We started to get a bit nervous that he had gotten cold feet and bailed out. His brother told us he went to the bank with his mom so we started searching though all the banks in Retalhuleu to find him! The miracle is that we actually did find him. Once we got to chatting with him he simply told us that he no longer wanted to get baptized in the Mormon church. He told us that an evangelical pastor had showed up at his house on Friday night and that he told him that we worship Joseph Smith and that our church was evil…he is an innocent 15 year old young man and he got confused real fast. We were devastated because we have worked with him over these last few weeks and we have developed a great friendship. It is really hard to see all that hard work wasted by 15 minutes with an evangelical pastor… I swear those guys just follow us around and after we visit someone they go right on over to say that we are liars and servants of the Devil… Rough times.

Don’t worry though, there is good news! I don’t know if you all remember that a few weeks ago I went on divisions with an Elder in my first area, Pedregal. I had gone back and found a family my trainer and I had tried to reactivate almost 2 years ago that just wasn’t ready. When I went back with Elder Cano the family was ready and they did reactivate. Their two sons were baptized on Saturday morning and they called me to invite me. I went over and got to be part of their baptism too. It was really special to be part of that experience and that family will forever be blessed by having chosen to go back to church. The two young men who were baptized are SUPER smart. They both have the goal of serving a full-time mission one day.

Nathan also got baptized this week! He is one of the smartest 11 year old kids I have taught out here. He loves the Gospel and his family supports him 100%. They are another really cool example of a family that had fallen less-active but now they are growing strong in the church. They still have the little problem of the divorce and such but I am sure that soon enough they will fix everything up and Vinicio one day will be baptized in the church. The baptism of Nathan was incredible. He is such a special little boy and I could feel the Lord’s love for him when I put him under the water. Fun day!

Allison, Nathan’s sister in law, accepted to be baptized on Tuesday the 24th of June! My last day in the mission. It will be a family baptism because her husband is already a member. She is really cool too and she loves the church. She came yesterday and really enjoyed it. She wants to go once more this coming Sunday and everything seems to be working out so she can get baptized the 24th. That will be a cool way to finish off the mission… A baptism! Allison is just a bit nervous because she is Catholic and her whole family is Catholic.. She will do it though! We have been focusing a lot of the restoration and she seems to really understand it well.

It has been fun out here working these last days of my mission! There is still much to do in my few days I have left and I continue to work hard. I give thanks to God every night before I go to bed for the many blessings he has given me. I would be nothing without Him.

Love you all! See you soon.

Elder Ty Russell

June 9 2014- Email #99

Family and Friends,

Wow! This week was fantastic. I feel like these last two weeks that I have to be a missionary are going to go by as if they are a blur. To start off I suppose I better introduce my new companion! We are now literally the three Nephites…Elder Holmstead and I received our new companion and the new AP in training Elder Campbell this Tuesday afternoon. He is from Oregon and has been a good friend of mine over my whole mission! I never imagined we would be companions one day. It is kind of weird though to be honest…three gringos as companions! We are having fun that is for sure. It has been especially good because we do triple divisions the few days we have to work in our area and we are getting done 3x the work! It has been great and we have been having a ton of success.

This week we were occupied visiting Mazatenango and Las Palmas zones to do the interviews. We have continued to check houses and visit the more remote parts of the mission. The beauty of this part of the world continues to amaze me as I get to know more and more of the mission. It has been especially cool to be able to be working closely with President in these last few weeks while we travel with Him and His wife, Sister Ruiz. They are inspired servants of the Lord and I am learning much from them.

On Wednesday it was really fun to be in Mazate again. I spent six months in Mazate with Elder Banegas and Elder Herrera…one of my favorite areas for sure! The cool thing was after finishing up the interviews in the morning I had the chance to go out with one of the zone leaders to my old area Lincoln and work the whole afternoon! It was really cool to be out in my old area working hard and showing Elder Crookston some old investigators of mine. At about 7pm that night the zone leaders had a meeting with President Ruiz in the Stake Center so I was waiting outside for President to finish and take us back to Retalhuleu and up walks an old friend and convert, Melvin. We hugged and I found out that he was there to get his Patriarchal Blessing and that he has now started his mission papers. He is going to get out his endowment in August and he will be leaving on his mission soon enough. Melvin has so much potential! It was so special to see him again and especially to hear that his whole family is still active in the church and working hard to progress. That made my day.

In our own area we are going strong! We have two people to baptize this Saturday…the first is the son of Wendy, Nathan. These people are SO cool I can´t even describe. They are now our best friends. We had family night with them again last night and we cooked dinner, had a lesson, and watched the Joseph Smith movie. Nathan is so excited about his baptism Saturday. He is 11 years old but is so very intelligent. We have not had the chance to really teach him too much due to the little time we have to be in our area but he understands everything super well. He already passed the baptismal interview and is set for this Saturday. This family has been completely reactivated and we know that they will stay strong in the Gospel.

We even had another miracle happen this week in regards to this same family. Wendy has a son who got married a few months back and his wife is named Allison. She and him have already separated due to some difficulties Wendy´s son has been having so Allison is living here in Retalhuleu with Wendy and Vinicio. She is 18 and has a 4 month old baby. She is really humble and has already accepted to be baptized on the 21st of this month. She was catholic before but we explained about the restoration and we watched the Bible Video of Jesus Christ´s baptism and she was super excited to have a baptism in the correct manner. Her husband is a member as well so they will be a family baptized and in a year they will have the goal to go to the temple. She is looking like she will be my last baptism of my mission! Scary….Haha

Vinicio, the husband of Wendy, sadly will not be able to be baptized in my time here in Guatemala. They are still working out the divorce and it seems that it will take about 2 months more until they can get legally married and he can be baptized. Vinicio is a really special man. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and has been praying. He asked us a really interesting question on Friday night…we were at his house and we were just about to leave when he said, “Elders, wait, I have a question.”. He continued “I am a bit of a hard man, I never get emotional… Why is it that when I pray about your church I start to cry?” The Spirit immediately filled the room and we all just sat for a minute thinking…we responded explaining to him that those feelings come from the Spirit and that it is the answer that the church is true. He has a true desire to repent and be baptized. He will be a future leader of the church here in Guatemala. He is very intelligent and has a great desire to do these things right.

This Saturday we also have another baptism of a young man named Wilmer. He is 15 and his family does not go to any church. His older brother, Avelardo, also has been coming to church but he has some difficulties. He has chosen to still wait and keep learning but Wilmer is totally ready! He is super excited but a bit timid. He asked that only we and the Bishop be at his baptism. Wilmer has definitely been prepared by the Lord. He is very humble and ready to do as the Lord desires he do. I have really loved teaching him about the church and the principles. Today we taught all the commandments and he understands all very well. His family and neighbors are definitely a bit of an opposition but he understands the need for baptism and has made his own decision to do it. I love his determination and I am so privileged to be part of his experience.

I love being a missionary. The Lord just keeps on blessing me and I am so grateful for it. Miracles come and keep coming and I am so happy to be part of this experience and work hard in the Lord´s service. I am trying my best to be a good missionary and find the Lord´s chosen children to receive the Gospel. I have a testimony that this is the true church and that God is preparing His children for the blessings we receive to be part of the truth. I am happy that I still have two weeks to work my heart out. I will keep doing it until the moment they take my name-tag away! I think even then I will try my best to continue being a missionary…there is work to do in all the world.

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

June 2 2014- Email #98

Family and Friends,

This week was another exceptionally awesome week! It just keeps getting better and better and better and better. I feel like the goals I set at the beginning of this, my last, change were inspired due to the fact that the Lord is helping my companion and I complete what we have sought to complete. We have been having a lot of success and I know that the Lord has prepared all these people to know the Gospel of Christ and come unto Him.

This week marked the beginning of interviews with President Ruiz.. That means that this week we have been traveling like crazy. We got to go and help with interviews of two zones: San Marcos and San Pedro. They are the two zones known in our mission as “Tierra Fria” or “Cold Earth”… The mountains. It was a really interesting experience to be out helping President get everything organized and such. Our job was to visit ALL the houses of the missionaries with Sister Ruiz, President´s wife, to make sure it was clean and to verify obedience.

As we got to check houses we had the opportunity to visit the areas most remote of the Retalhuleu mission. I had to drive because no one else knows how to drive stick-shift and we were in President’s car. The drive was literally beautiful. Wednesday and Thursday all day we had the chance to visit various little villages in the middle of nowhere to see where the missionaries work and inspect their houses. I was blown away by the culture of these mountainous villages and the humility of the people. I was actaully kind of sad that I was never put in a mountainous region during my mission. My subject line is because I literally felt as if I was back in the Utah mountains with Dad spotting out some deer…the forests are full of Utah-like trees and I was on these bumpy-as-heck dirt roads. It made me kind of “Trunky”…. Haha but not really.

It was fun to be out in San Marcos and San Pedro… President got us a hotel to stay a few nights and we got to eat in the best restaurants there. Friday morning a local high school had invited the San Marcos zone to host an event based on the family for the entire morning. The high school had invited all the parents of the students and because Elder Holmstead and I were already up there they asked us to participate. I get to teach room after room after room of parents about the Church and all of the activites we offered to strengthen the family and help to have all the blessings God wants us to have. It was really a great activity and the zone got many references.

In our own area we had a fantastic week! I have felt a bit worried because of only having Saturday and Tuesday to work in our own area this week but no, the Lord definitely helped us. We had 8 investigators in church this week…what a miracle! 6 of these people I found on Tuesday when I was on divisions with my old companion Elder Zamudio! We got to work together again and we had a really successful day. We found some really positive people in San Carlos and they all were just so willing to listen and attend church on Sunday.

This one family we found is really special. Their names are Brenda and Marvin. They are a young couple and are unmarried but have a large desire to do it. We have been teaching them about the church and about marriage and baptism and they are really positive. We hope that in these next few weeks we can help them make the decision to do it. They live in very humble circumstances but have great faith and Marvin even had to sacrifice not going to work so he could go to church. Brenda is only 17 though so we need the permission of her parents to be able to have them get married.

We also had a miracle family walk into church yesterday…I was sitting down when I saw an unknown family sitting down without hymn books. I quickly found a spare hymn book and went and let them use it. After the meeting I chatted with them and I found out that she is a member and he is not. It was his first time but he said he really enjoyed it. They stayed all three hours and we set up an appointment to visit them in the afternoon.

Yesterday we spent a long time in their house! First we chatted a bit and we got to teaching him about the restoration. He had questions about Joseph Smtih and all but as we explained it he understood well and committed to reading the Book of Mormon and praying. The only problem is that they are still not married… she is in the process of a divorce…the good thing is that she is a lawyer and is working out her own divorce. By December they will be married and he will be baptized. I may not still be here but I know that they will always be a special family for me. We stayed after the lesson and ate dinner and all. They are a great family. The cool thing is that they have an 11 year old son who is not baptized…Nathan. We are teaching him and we think we will baptize him coming up here on the 14th of June.

We also have more but I am just about out of time! This week was full of miracles. I know the Lord is watching over us as we complete our duties for President and the mission but also as we work in our area. I am still in the process of conversion and I know that every day is a chance to become more and more converted to this Gospel. It is such a blessing to serve God. I wouldn´t trade it for the world.

Love you all. Have a wonderful week and know that I love you all. May God bless you!

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

May 26 2014- Email #97

Family and Friends,

This week was exceptional. Literally exceptional…better than many other weeks I have experienced on my mission! I feel like the mission gets better and better as the weeks go on. This week was special due to the arrival of President Kevin R Duncan, the Central America Area President. He is incredible.

The arrival of President Duncan occupied much of this week to be honest. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday he was here in our mission hosting multi-zone conferences. We had to go early to the different locations of the conferences and set up and make sure all the missionaries were in place for when President Duncan and President Ruiz got there and everything was perfect. It all actually went really well and President Duncan said to us after that our mission was on an incredible level. He was very impressed and I feel like the missionaries were also very impressed with him.

It was kind of funny because in the second conference with about 140 missionaries in the room President Duncan asks President Ruiz who was the best teaching companionship there. President chose Elder Holmstead and I and we had to go up and do a practice lesson in front of EVERYONE. It was funny though because President Duncan pulled us aside first and told us to do the first practice just horribly… I had to play the part of the bad companion who didn’t let his companion talk at all and just keep running my mouth. Everyone was shocked as I started going at it messing up on purpose and making it look like we had a horrible companionship. President Duncan stopped the practice and asked everyone what the problem was…everyone obviously picked out real fast that there was no unity between us. He then asked us to do a practice but in the manner we actually do teach. We then proceeded to give the practice and it went really well. President Ruiz didn’t even know we were going to mess up on purpose the first time and he said “Thank goodness that was planned because I thought I needed to call two new APs”. It was funny!

The conferences with President Duncan really helped the mission. He talked a lot about goals, vision, and the way we need to start teaching. I feel like it helped the mission a lot be able to have a special spiritual experience and be ready to have an exceptional month in June. The mission since last year has continued to rise and to better itself. President Ruiz is an idea man and is always instituting new ideas and asking us for our opinions. It has been fun to work closely with him and see the growth of the Mission.

On Tuesday I had the chance to do divisions with the zone leaders in Las Palmas zone. They are in the area Pedregal, my first area!! I was all over that place with one of the zone leaders showing him old investigators and such. The best part of the day was towards the end when I randomly had this impression that I had to go back and visit a less-active family that I had visited about 20 months ago with my trainer. I went back and this family had completely changed…the wife before was working Sundays and just had no desire to even talk to us. The husband was always really nice and accepted us but without the support of his wife it was hard for him to go to church. They have 3 kids who aren’t baptized and Elder Solomon and I could just never get them to church.

Tuesday when Elder Cano and I got there the family was finally prepared. The wife no longer works Sundays and she even remembered me. She had tears in her eyes as I told her that I had a special feeling to go and visit them before I finished my day in Pedregal. The family committed to going to church Sunday and the 3 young men all want to be baptized! The Lord always has his plan and that plan is perfect! They may have not been prepared when I was in that area but now they are!

In our area this week we tried working really diligently and on Sunday morning it seemed that it didn’t quite pay off. We have continued to work with Magda and she seemed to be progressing well but Sunday morning she said she was sick and that she couldn’t go to church. We were super sad because if people don’t start going to church they literally can’t get baptized! Soo frustrating. The cool thing? All during sacrament I was praying asking God to help me have success my last month and I was feeling kind of down…as the sacrament finished in walked Magda with her family! Miracles people! Miracles. I was super excited and I know God answers prayers. We are going to visit her tonight to see if we can set up a date for her baptism. Pray for her please!

We have also been working with this less-active family as part of my “Finishing with Honor” project and they are really special. It is a Mom, Rosita, and her three kids. They have various challenges but they are a really cute family and we love visiting them. We always finish the lesson just laughing and having a great time sharing together. They were in church bright and early and they are on track to becoming fully active once again! Working with less-actives always helps!

I am having fun out here working. I need to trust in the Lord more and I know that everything will be okay and I will be able to fulfill with the vision I have for the last month of my mission. I have a testimony of this church and I know that my Savior lives and loves me. I try and get closer to Him every day as I serve Him and I sure hope He accepts my humble offering and I know He will bless me for me efforts. The work of the Lord is a work of love. I love these people.

Love you all! Have a wonderful week and know that I pray for you all often.

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

May 19 2014- Email #96

Family and Friends,

Another week down! A week that was probably the most stressful in the office. Changes week…haha it was sure interesting. This week we traveled a lot. We were in tons of different parts of the mission making sure everything went smoothly and supporting President with various commitments. There were a whole lot of changes this week in the mission. More than half of the companionships were changed up and we have our mission ready to take on these next six weeks with force. I am super motivated to work as hard as possible to complete my goals and do my very best to support the mission as well.

The saddest part of changes was that Elder Angulo went home! That was sad…he was an EXCELLENT companion. We became the best of friends in our short time together. The three Nephites no longer exist for the time being…Elder Holmstead is my only companion for now. He is from Lehi, Utah and it a wonderful companion as well. He is super humble and he keeps me in line ;) For the next few weeks it will just be us two but seeing as we both finish our missions the 25th of June President will be calling a new assistant shortly so we can train him before we go home! We will see what happens I suppose…

For my last 6 weeks here in the mission I have established many goals that I hope to complete. I call it my “Miracle Project” and I will fulfill all the goals that I have made. Elder Holmstead has also made his own goals and we are going to work together to complete them and finish our missions with honor. It will take a large effort but I know that I can do it. I attached my plan to finish my mission to the document so you guys can see a bit of what I want to accomplish. Setting goals is important and I know with these goals I will be able to push myself and do all that the Lord wants me to do.

Friday we had a cool experience. Elder Holmstead and I went to a little branch on the beach named Ocos. It is branch that has about 25 people that attend church regularly. The Elders had decided to do a ward activity to motivate the branch so Elder Holmstead and I went out to put on a movie night at the “church”.. (The church in Ocos is just a rented out concrete house). The activity was really special. The attendance reached just about 60 people and there were about 10 investigators that showed up. The Elders were really excited and we had a good time helping them out.

We only had one day to work in our area this week…Saturday was our only day available to invite investigators to church but we got out and worked hard. We found many new investigators and we ended up with 5 investigators in church yesterday. A few of them are more positive than others but to attend church is a progress because in church everyone can have a spiritual experience.

We found 2 really cool investigators that we really hope can start progressing even more. Magda is a 40 year old woman who lived in New York 10 years and came back here to Guatemala about a year ago. She speaks good English and we made really good friends right from the start. We had invited her to church and she gave us the same answer as almost everyone… “I will be there! You can wait for me outside…” 99.9% of the time that means NO! Haha so we just told her okay that is fine and we continued on. To my surprise Sunday morning she showed up with her two kids on her motorcycle right at 9! I was shocked.. Haha but I guess I need to have more faith!! She is reallly cool. We are going to visit her tonight and see if she wants to be baptized. I baptized her cousin about 2 weeks ago! She has friends in church and everything. We are excited to work with her!

The other investigator who we really hope progresses is named Romulo…he ALSO lived in New York like 20 years! He speaks really great English and likes to talk about the United States…he is about 55 or so and has been a drunk the majority of his life. He got sick a while ago and now literally CAN’T drink or he will die.. So yeah, I would say the Lord has prepared him! He really enjoyed church yesterday and said he would be coming back not this week but the next. This week he will be in Guatemala City for tests and such…he is pretty sick. We gave him a blessing though and we have faith that he will be okay and will accept baptism.

That is about it for this week! It was good:) I love every day of the mission. There is nothing more important in my life right now than to get out and open my mouth to proclaim the Gospel. The church is true.. Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the restoration and I know that we enjoy the fulness of the Gospel as we remain faithful to our covenants.

Have a good week everyone! I love you all and I pray for you frequently.

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

May 12 2014- Email #95

Family and Friends,

D&C 6:36 is one of my favorite scriptures. It has been been a mission slogan for me. I have chosen various scriptures that mean a lot to me as a missionary and I repeat them each morning before my personal study. This week was difficult in the sense that I have still been sick the majority of the time; though I can now gladly say I am doing much better. Trials are part of this life and I love the scriptures that give hope, motivate, and inspire to be better and trust in God always.

This week was full of training meetings for a lot of the mission. We traveled and had multi-zone conferences in more than 6 zones. It was really cool because in each conference I feel like the Spirit guided the missionaries and us in a bit of a different direction. The Spirit is so key in having a successful and productive day in the mission field.

Always after visiting a zone and doing a conference we leave with the Elders in their respective areas to help them with their investigators and whatever else they need. This week was really good and I enjoyed working with some really great missionaries. At nights we sleep on the floor with a sleeping bag that we carry around with us everywhere! It is interesting…haha I feel like I am camping sometimes.

In our own area we worked Friday and Saturday this week. I believe last week I explained how we have not been having too much success while working in our own area…we have made a resolution that while working in our area we needed to start working more with members and we needed to do more activities. Friday we worked out a movie night in the school in our area. We got permission to set up our projector and put on some movies Saturday night. The sad thing was that it rained AGAIN! Literally the two times we have intended do this activity it has rained super hard…it is not cool.

The activity was cool though, we had about 35 people there and they really enjoyed the movie. By doing this activity we met these 4 really cool young men who all told us they would go to church the next day. We were excited about that because doing the activity is not exactly easy to set up and it takes a good amount of time. It was totally worth it though.

Sunday we had the 4 young men in church. The most positive is named Marcos. He is 17 and his girlfriend of 2 years in also a member but more or less inactive. He came and he has actually been to church before and he really likes it. We had a lesson last night with him after we got off Skype and he has a little bit of fear of being baptized but we are optimistic that he will accept and understand why he needs to do it with time.

That is about it for this week! Today for P-Day we invited another zone who is having success to come to the mission home with us and play sand volleyball and soccer and eat lunch with President and his Family. Go P-Day! I am a bit stressed out haha so I need it.

Love you all! Have a great week and never forget to shine.

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

May 5 2014- Email #94

Family and Friends,

This Sunday is Mothers Day and I would like to send a quick shout-out to the best Mom in the entire world! How do I know she is the best mother in the world? She raised me…and survived! Haha thanks for everything you do for me Mom, I love you.

This week was really interesting…I have been really sick. Tuesday morning I literally could not even get out of bed without feeling a horrible pain in my stomach. The hard thing was that we had a leaders council that very morning with the Zone Leaders and I had to share a message and participate. My companions gave me a preisthood blessing and I got up and showered to get ready for the meeting. I have been sick for about the whole week before with “stomach problems”… I will let you guess…haha but Tuesday it was the worst. The nurse had me take a few tests at the clinic and it turns out I have have a giant parasite latched onto my stomach and it has grown and multiplied…apparently I have a stomach fungus and a bunch of eggs and little parasites too. The nurse gave me my pills to kill the parasites and now I am feeling much better. In total I have to take 40 pills to kill the parasites…4 pills a day for 10 days! This is no ordinary parasite!! I feel honored…

Even sick, the Lord needs His work hastened and that is just what I tried to do. We were in Mazate on Wednesday for a multi-zone conference with President and it went really well. Motivating missionaries is a fun job and I really enjoy the Spirit the missionaries bring as they come prepared to learn and be better missionaries.

I spent the afternoon in Chicacao…one of the tougher areas in the mission to get baptisms. It was a great day because I was with a new missionary. He only has one month in the field and he has a great desire to work. We spent the entire day just tracting… knocking doors… talking to everyone. We found lots of great positve people and I am sure they will be having baptisms soon.

Early Thursday morning we had another zone conference in San Felipe…close to Retalhuleu. It went well just as in Mazate. I got to work Thursday with another really great pair of missionaries. I had the chance to get to know their most positive investigators and I interviewed them for baptism and both were ready to accept. I really have enjoyed going around to get to know some of the most chosen people ready for baptism in the mission. It is really motivating to keep looking for those who are looking for the truth. The area where I worked is one of the smallest branches in the mission…the church is literally just a little house the church rents and puts the sign on the wall…haha I was so shocked when I saw that it was the church!

In our own area we are a bit out of luck. In our 3 days in our area to work we have been working like crazy every day but we just can’t seem to have success for some reason. We are searching for a solution and tonight we have planned to put the church movie “The Testaments” with a giant projector in a central part of our area. We made invitations Saturday and we have invited the entire village to the movie night. We hope to have a lot of participation and get some referrals through the activity. We need to stop working so dang hard with our feet and start working harder with our heads!

That is about it for this week! There are good people in every part of this world…I feel so blessed to be out here in Guatemala getting to know the people here. Many have hard hearts….many have no desire to get to know what is the truth but all the work is so very worth it when some simple, humble soul accepts the truth. I know God is a God of miracles and he will bless me with a miracle this week!

Thanks for all the support I receive from you guys. I feel your prayers and love.

Love,

Elder Russell

April 28 2014- Email #93

Family and Friends,

Another week down! I feel bad for Elder Angulo because he literally has like 2 weeks left…he already extended his mission 6 weeks and even wanted to extend another six weeks! He is crazy haha….they sent a request to Salt Lake asking for another extension but they didn’t let him! It has been fun though going about working with him…he is the first missionary that I will “kill” as they say here when a missionary is finishing his mission. He is in no way “trunky” though…I think he is even more motivated than he has been his whole mission due to having to go home soon. He and Elder Holmstead are great companions. We sure cause a scene everywhere we go!

Jesus did not get baptized!! I was SOO sad…everything was going so well with him and we had everything ready and at the last second BAM it was all lost. Monday night we had a really cool family night with him and the Stake President and he was all ready to go. Tuesday through Friday we were out of our area in different parts of the mission doing divisions so we had no time to visit him. Apparently Thursday night his old Evangelical Pastor happened to stop by and told him that if he gets baptized in the Mormon church he would go straight to hell because he was already baptized in his church…we were soooo ticked. We tried everything to help him understand and make the right decision but he locked his heart..it was tough because we really loved that old fart. Maybe one day when his Pastor forgets about him again we will go back and snag him! Darn Satan!

I no longer will complain about the heat…this week I went to San Marcos 2 days and I literally froze!! On Tuesday I was in Tecun Uman…the hottest part of the mission. I worked there all day and met back up with Elder Angulo and Elder Holmstead Wednesday morning to head to the mountains. When we arrived it was fine…like a Utah spring day; at night is when it got really cold. I brought out my sweater that I have NEVER used my entire mission and it helped a bit but it was so different to work in that climate! The people are different up there…I suppose more closed off and they don’t exactly like to joke around like they do here in the hotter climates of Guatemala. The scenery in the mountains was really interesting…to be honest it reminded me of Utah mountains… It doesn’t snow or anything but yes, it does get cold. There was a bunch of pine trees and other trees that reminded me exactly of Utah and hunting season! It was cool but now that I have almost 2 years without feeling cold I was a big baby! I am afraid to see my first Utah winter in 3 years next winter!

I had a really sweet spiritual experience this week as I baptized a super nice lady named Mirta…she was the investigator of the Sisters here who share our ward. I had gotten to know her in the Gospel Principles class at church and she was so funny! When she decided to get baptized she told the sisters…I want Elder Russell, the tall funny guy to baptize me. Haha it was fun to baptize her and be part of her experience. The feeling of baptizing someone is so rewarding and I am always grateful for the opportunity the Lord gives me to continue serving Him.

There is still much to do. I have 2 months left and I am going to live it up while I can. The mission is wonderful…I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel the Saviors love daily and I know that He blesses me and you as I continue on serving Him with love.

Love you all!

Elder Ty Russell

April 21 2014- Email #92

Family and Friends,

Where has this week gone? I feel like I was here writing you guys just yesterday. This week was VERY busy and I hardly felt the time. I have a bad feeling that is how it is going to be the rest of my mission… the time goes all too fast when your having fun right?

Soooo…this week we had emergency changes here in the mission…It was actually a really interesting experience for me because President Ruiz had my companion and I help him to make the changes and such…we had a meeting and we decided together how the changes were to take place and which missionary would have changes. It was really cool to see how the Spirit guides while making big decisions like that. I really respect President for the way that he listens to my companion and I, looks at the changes we want, and then makes the decision only if the Spirit confirms to him what we have counseled him. It was really interesting…

For the emergency changes we had a LOT of Elders and Sisters to take around to their new areas and such. Tuesday and Thursday this week I was driving the truck ALL day. I have now gone to every part of the mission like twice…and the mission covers a large area! It was fun…I am getting used to driving here in Guatemala. There are literally no rules…if I can drive here, I can drive anywhere!

The reason my subject is titled “The 3 Nephites” is that Elder Angulo and I received a new companion as part of the emergency changes. We are now 3 AP’s…our new companion is Elder Holmstead from Lehi, Utah. He finishes his mission the same time I do. He will be going home on the 25th of June but he is really excited to work with us and we have already had a great time working in a threesome. President wants three assistants because when we go do divisions he wants to be with one of the assistants and the other two can go to a different zone to do divisions…that way we can get more work done and everything has been going really well.

This week was really fun. We had a lot of specialized training meetings for different groups of missionaries and I have really loved it. President assigns us a topic the night before and we study up and present the topic to the group of missionaries for 30 minutes. I have really liked it and I feel like I learn more than the missionaries I am teaching. We have another meeting tomorrow with all the missionaries who are still in their training. I am excited for that because new missionaries always have such a good Spirit and I love to teach them that they have to baptize everyone possible.

In our area this week we had a really great experience. We were given a new little part of the sisters ares in San Carlos to work in…we were super excited because it is a really cool area to work in. It is literally in the middle of the jungle. We only had 3 days to work there this week but while we were there we worked super hard and we brought 6 people to church on Sunday. The Bishop had to go with his pickup truck to go and get them because our area is about 10 minutes away from the church.

The coolest story from this week has to do with a man we found last week. His name is Jesus Francisco. He is an elderly man who is very sick. When we found him he told us he has pretty much every sickness you can think of. He told us for 2 years now he has pretty much not been able to walk well and he never leaves his house because he is too sick. We asked him if we gave him a blessing and he was better by Sunday if he would go to church with us. He has a lot of faith and knew that we could do it…we prayed and fasted on Saturday to be able to give the blessing and we felt prepared as we gave the poor man his priesthood blessing. We promised him he would feel better and that Sunday we would be passing by to get him for church.

Sunday morning we went to his house and we were filled with joy as we saw him all dressed up and ready to go. He told us that night after the blessing he felt just great, he slept the whole night through… something he hasn’t done is a long time. He went to church with us and he said that he loved it. We went to his house later that night and we challenged him for baptism this Saturday. He needed just a bit of encouragement but he accepted and signed his baptismal form saying that he would be baptized Saturday.

The Lord blessed us greatly by helping us find this man and by healing him so that he could get up and go to church with us. I know the power of the priesthood is real and that God loves all of his children. He wants us to be happy and he wants us to return to him. Jesus Francisco will have his chance and he is happy.

Life is good out here. I am trying to do my best to fulfill my calling as a missionary and preach the Gospel. It is not an easy job but just as Ammon said, “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.” Alma 26:27.

I have a testimony of Christ’s restored church. I know it exists and that brings me much joy. I will never depart from the light I have found within this wonderful Gospel. I love the Lord. And THANKS TO HIM, we will all live again… Happy Easter :)

Love,

Elder Ty Russell

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