Elder Ty Russell

Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

February 18 2013- Email #31

Family and Friends that still care after 7 months,

I can literally say that I have never experienced a week like this is my life. It was happy, sad, funny, and really really sad. I was happy to hear from all of you and hear that all is well. Another Happy Birthday shout out to my Father who turned a humble 48 years old Saturday! Happy Birthday Dad;) I suppose I should start describing my week. Buckle up. 

Firstly we had interviews with President Maravilla this week. That was an experience really great for me. I talked to him a bit about my companion and asked for some advice on how I could improve my relationship with him. He told me that of all the questions Elders ask him this is the easiest to answer but the hardest to fulfill. He told me to love him. Simple enough right? Really I know that I needed to do that all along but it is difficult with the pride of ones heart to submit and just love always. I am not saying that I have exactly fulfilled President Maravillas counsel completely but relations have improved. Elder Suchite is a stud and all but we just do not exactly agree on a few things. I am learning little by little to get along better each day and have fun with him. Really that is the key. You have to work hard on the mission but also have fun! If you do not have fun…you go crazy. I try my best to always be laughing and joking with him and we are steadily improving! The funny thing is when I was in with President Maravilla he told me “Elder Russell, after reading your emails the past few weeks I have never been more happy”. I asked him why that would be and he told me “Finally, I thought to myself, Elder Russell is seeing challenges in his mission”.  We both had a good laugh and talked a bit. It was a great interview. I am super grateful for President Maravilla. 

Haha also a funny thing happened this week with one of my very first investigators found here in Pajapita. His name is Juan and he is about 86 or so. Juan is crazy…literally. Haha he smokes like a pipe and has visited the church once but told us he does not like it because all the old ladies will want to get married to him! This Tuesday we were talking to him about the Word of Wisdom and we asked him if he would quit smoking and he told us “No way”. It was funny because after he said no we asked him if he wanted to be happy or sad in this life. He promptly responded “Sad”. We then asked if he wanted to live longer or die… to which he responded “I want to die”. We then asked if when he died he wanted to live with God in heaven or with Satan in hell… to which he responded “Why would I want to live with God? I want to go to hell.” We were a little short on words at that point. I then took his cigarettes and told him I would keep them safe for him. He was not exactly a happy camper so we left and we have decided not to go back! Haha it was quite the interesting experience with him. But it was definitely time to leave him behind. He was not progressing obviously… 

Now to the story that you all want to know I am sure… Mariela… did she get married and baptized or no? No. One of the saddest stories that I have ever been apart of. We did the interview with her to be baptized this week and everything was seeming to fall into place. We were super happy and had the Stake President make a huge cake for us and we bought a big wedding arc and put white balloons around it and such. The wedding was going to be awesome. Saturday night came and when it was 7 we finally decided to call Mariela to ask where she was and such! She told us “I can’t find Mario… I think he went out drinking”. Her husband had agreed to be married to her by a miracle but he decided it was more important to go out drinking Saturday night instead of showing up at the church to be married to his spouse. Quality guy eh? So here we were…all the members of the ward, the lawyer, and nobody to be married. Mariela came to the church with her son Daniel and we at least were able to baptize him Saturday night but it was not the same. It was really sad. Mariela was so ashamed. She has been wanting to be baptized for years and years. 

The baptism went really well and we ended up eating the cake anyway with all the members for the baptism of Daniel. He is such a sweet little boy. He is 9 and is just a bit shy. But him and I are good buddies. He likes to kick around the soccer ball with me when we go and visit his house. 

The next morning we went to pick up Mariela and her family for the confirmation of Daniel when Mariela broke down just bawling. She told us how ashamed she was and how she thought she could never go back to church. She told us how Mario doesn’t help pay for anything for their 3 kids and how much she suffers there. We did not know what to do other than ask her to trust in God and come to church. We told her that in times of trial are the times we NEED to go to church more than ever. She was in agreement and told us that when she goes to church with us she feels happy instead of misery in her own home. She went to church and Daniel was confirmed. 

That afternoon was when things got crazy. There was another baptism of an 8 year old boy in the Ward at 4 in the afternoon. As we were cleaning up the chairs and such Mariela showed up to the church with her girls crying. Mario had started hitting her when he got home that afternoon when she mentioned the wedding. Not only he but her mother in law as well started hitting her with a rod. She had big marks on her arms from where they were hitting her. Even worse Mario had gotten a machete and was holding it to her throat threatening to kill her. He was so drunk. She came to the church and started talking to the Stake Presidents wife. We had no idea what to do. As missionaries we can’t do anything really other than be there for her to support her. At about 8 or so we all went to the Stake Presidents house and I gave her a blessing of comfort. She then decided to finally go to the police about it and file a report. I do not know exactly what is going to happen with her but it is a very tough situation. She has family in Guatemala City and she wants to leave and take the kids but the kids are used to living here. They don’t want to leave. 

My heart literally aches for her. She is such a wonderful person. I have never exactly been so close to a situation like this and it really has gotten me thinking how grateful I am for the life I have and the parents who raised me. If people would be obedient to the commandments of God and follow the principles of the Gospel this world would be a much happier place. 

I came across a quote this week that I wanted to share with you. “Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” I ask that we can all take a self evaluation of where our desires are at. Do we have a desire to follow Christ and in the end make good decisions? If not we have to change something. Everyone has different challenges and vices but it is up to us to give our will to the Lord and desire what he desires for us. 

I ask you to pray for Mariela with me. That is all I and you all can do for her. I love you all so very much and I hope you all may have a wonderful week. 


Elder Ty Russell


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