Elder Ty Russell

Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

February 26 2013- Email #32

Family,

Do not even worry I am alive! I am sorry for writing so late today but I was in Guatemala City and sitting in a bus for the last like day and a half. Rough times… I spent my P-Day in a bus for the most part on the way to Guatemala City and then coming back to Pajapita. I will share the story with you shortly. But yes, this week was a week of miracles. I was very blessed this week and I have seen the hand of the Lord in the work.
I suppose I will begin with a funny story first. I am no longer blonde… I am now a Latino. Thursday night we were going to visit a member named Sariah. She is really cool and her Mom does our laundry. We actually went to pick up laundry because it was the end of the day and we ended up chatting with Sariah. Sariah is a hair stylist and has her own salon on her parents property here close to where I live. As we were chatting Elder Suchite and Sariah started joking around saying “Hey you should make it official and dye your hair black so you can look more like a Latino!”. You know me… I do not really say no when I should! I decided to let them proceed to dye my hair… it is not exactly black but it is dark dark brown. It was one of those things super funny in the moment. We were all laughing and having a good time. But…the next morning when I woke up I went to take a shower and such and ended up looking in the mirror to find a new human being! Haha all the members think it is super funny but I am not so sure I want to ever do it again. Who knows how long it will take to have my hair normal again but I am content I suppose!
The reason I went to Guatemala City? Super boring… I just had to sign some random papers. I have no idea exactly what I signed so who knows if I am now a resident of Guatemala or something crazy like that. My trip was kind of funny though. We left Sunday at about 5 to be in Retalhuleu about 7 or 8 but I was too cheap to take a bus so we decided to hitch-hike to REU. We only got to Coatepeque with our first hitch-hike. From their we almost took a bus but decided once again to be cheap and hitch-hike to Retalhuleu. We walked through the city until we came to the main road and finally one dude stopped and took us to the crossroads of Retalhuleau and Quetzaltenango. By this time it is about 6:30 or so and getting dark…our chances of getting a hitch-hike were getting lower and lower and we were kind of scared that we would not make it. The bus schedule is weird on Sundays so we had no idea if another bus would pass! At about 7:15 finally a bus heading for Reu passed by and we made it there safely. Next time I will just take the easy road and pay the 10 Quetzales I think! When we got to Reu we just chilled in the office until 12:00 with the assistants and secretaries. I have no idea why but our private bus left at 12:00 for the capital… It only took us like 3 hours to get over there so we had to wait in the tiny little bus forever until the area office of the church finally opened up around 8 or so. We were there all day waiting to sign our papers and leave and I even found out I have to go back and lose ANOTHER P-day because my papers at immigration were not exactly ready. Super fun huh?
So we definitely saw miracles this week. Mariela is now a baptized and confirmed member of the church…last week if you remember I explained her situation. Not pretty. Tuesday we were in District meeting talking about Mariela and how we could help her when a knock came to the door. The Stake Presidents wife came over to announce that Mariela had called her and her husband had agreed to be married that night! It was a MIRACLE. I have no idea how it happened but thank you so much to all those who prayed for her. I know that all the prayers and the mercy of God touched the heart of Mario so he decided to get married.
The marriage was carried out but it was no normal marriage like you would all think. It seemed more like a funeral in the Lawyers office…Mario was super quiet and they did not even kiss after! But really the marriage helps Mariela in the legal situation so I was definitely happy it happened. If he ever hits her again or leaves she has all legal rights to the house and everything.
The baptism was really a wonderful occasion. The Spirit was so very strong and Mariela had such a big smile on her face. She has been waiting YEARS for this to happen and it finally did Saturday. What a miracle to be part of it. I love the mission:)
Another really awesome thing happened on Thursday. We are teaching the brother of the Ward Mission Leader. He is from Guatemala City and is here because he is not doing so well with his health. We have been teaching him for a few weeks now and he has progressed wonderfully. He is reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and has even decided to be baptized Friday! Very exciting! He is a wonderful man and it has been such a pleasure to help him understand the importance of the Gospel. He has been through some of the hardest times and has literally been prepared of God to be here right now making this decision.
In the college where we teach classes we met one young man named Juan a few weeks ago. His Dad died a few months back and he has been really struggling. We have been helping him with his problems and teaching him. His only challenge is that he lives about 45 minutes from the church. We invited him to come to church Sunday and he accepted and came! He really enjoyed it and has found a lot of peace from the church. I am confident we will be able to baptize him very soon. He is a very special kid.
One problem we have been facing lately is the issue of obtaining permission from parents to baptize! We have found about 5 different young men and women in that college who want to go to church and be baptized but their parents are all Evangelicals and do not give permission. I am really trying to look for an answer to this problem but I guess God will help guide us to those who are truly prepared. I have seen it already and I know that I need the faith to be guided to find those who are ready.
I learned something really cool this week in my personal study. I was studying about the atonement of Christ and how His grace can affect my life. When I pray to ask help from God I recognize now that I have gone about it in the wrong manner at times. The grace of Christ can also be an enabling power that helps us better our situations and overcome our challenges. For example…when Nephi was tied up by his brothers he did not ask God “Get me out of this situation please!”. Nephi asked God for the enabling power to change his circumstances and received the strength to break the bands. I think sometimes we as people go about asking God for things the wrong way. We ask him to take away our challenges and trials but that is not how God works. He wants us to overcome our trials not just have them taken away by Him. It is our responsibility to ask God for the strength to overcome our challenges and trials and then act with that new power that we receive from Grace. It may not always be physical strength like was given to Nephi but maybe the moral strength to say no to tempting situations or to have the faith to trust in the Lord always. God is conscious of our challenges and trials but he will not just take them away because we ask. He will, however, give us the enabling power through his grace to overcome them ourselves.
I give you my testimony that I know the church is true. Jesus lives and loves each and every one of us.
I leave a challenge that each of you can look within yourselves and ask God to give you the strength to change your own circumstance, and not the circumstance itself.
Love,
Elder Ty Russell
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