Elder Ty Russell

Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

April 29 2013- Email #41

Family and Friends,

I am fat. I left for the mission weighing just about 134 pounds… I now weigh 171 pounds. Elder Russell has turned into Elder Hippo. Haha this has been a wonderful week. We worked hard and played hard and I am definitely happy to have another 6 weeks with Elder Lopez. Changes are Wednesday but I am sure that we are still going to be together because his training is still not over. 
This last week on the 25th I had my one year anniversary of writing EVERY DAY in my journal. I know, it may sound weird to be excited about it…but I am very proud of myself because I can now look back and remember all of the awesome experiences I have had. I actually started my journal the day that I went through the temple for the first time so I was really happy to look back and remember all the special feelings I felt that day. I encourage you all to start keeping a journal so that you can remember the special moments of life. The Lord gives us tender mercies every day and we should want to share these experiences with others one day. DO IT:) 
This week was full of good and bad experiences. I choose to start with a rather uncomfortable situation…last Saturday we had to go and do a baptism for the Sister Missionaries in Coatepeque. When we got there I saw a man who was not a member so I started chatting it up with him. He was a very very intelligent man and I found out that he used to be a Pastor. I started explaining to him the restoration and he understood everything very well and accepted the story of Joseph Smith without a doubt. The Sister missionaries put a baptisimal date for this past Friday with him and I went to do the interview on Thursday. This is where the uncomfortable part begins.  He was doing really well in the interview until I got to the part about committing serious crimes…it turns out he used to be in a gang and was in a gang shooting when he killed a man. He showed me 3 bullet wound scars he has in his stomach and told me it was in self defense…I had no idea what to do so I called the Assistants and apparently anyone who has killed can absolutely not be baptized for a very long period of time. Maybe 10 to 15 more years if he goes to church every week, pays his tithing, and does everything he can to repent. It was really hard for me because I grew to love this guy in the short time I knew him. 
The most uncomfortable part was when I had to tell him that he was not eligable to be baptized…to look him in the eye and tell him was quite the interesting experience. He accepted with humility and understood. He told me he would keep attending church and doing what is asked of him. I have hope for him one day! The Lord is merciful and I know repentance is real…just some sins really do need more time to be truly repented of. 
I think I shall share with you about a few of my more positive investigators. First up in Henry. He was one of our very first investigators and he loves the church. We have had a great time teaching him and getting to know him and he really wants to be baptized…the only problem is his wife…she hates us apparently. His father-in-law is a Pastor and they do NOT like the Mormons. She pretty much told Henry that if he gets baptized he has to get out of the house! How horrible is that? We are looking for the solution right now but I am sure with fasting and prayer the Lord will open the way for this man. 
We also found a few young ladies by the name of Guadelupe and Amarilliz who are really awesome! They love the lessons we teach and have gone to church twice now. They are Catholic (kind of) but really understand the restoration rather well. They just want a bit more time to attend church before they get baptized. I am confident with a bit of divine pressure they will make the right decision. 
This past week we had the very interesting experience to teach a deaf man who does not know sign language (he just kind of makes up his own signs), and cannot read. As we started to explain baptism and such he started trying to tell us his challenges. We thought at one point he was sleeping with a nun in Mexico… Haha it was super interesting. Like a charades party or something. We did in the end find out that the challenge was that his girlfriend (I have no idea how he communicates with his girlfriend) goes to another church and thinks that Mormons are devils. It was a rough hour of frustration. 
Well as you can see the life of a missionary is crazy! But to be honest it is the best experience someone could have. I am grateful for each and every one of the people I teach and I love to be out here testifying of my Savior. I hope you are all doing your part and being obedient and loving. I always like to remember the story of the good samaritan. What an example of charity and love. Ask yourselves at the end of the day if you have been like the good samaritan in some way. Each day the Lord puts us in the path of someone who needs our help, our smile, or simply our testimony. Take advantage of that chance he gives us. 
I love you all! Have a great week and keep me in your prayers! 
Elder Ty Russell

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