Elder Ty Russell

Guatemala, Retalhuleu Mission

October 14 2013- Email #65

Family and Friends,

As my subject title states I now have 15 months serving the mission as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I realized yesterday that Elder Herrera and I are the two oldest missionaries in our zone…not age-wise but with time in the mission…I feel so weird to say that! I still feel like I just barely left the MTC and I was just starting out here. The mission is kind of like a dream…looking back it seems like all the things I’ve been through hasn’t even really happened. How very grateful I am that it HAS passed. That I HAVE lived these experiences so wonderful. I would never go back and decide not to serve the beautiful people of Guatemala. They bless me more than I have been able to bless them. I am sure of that.
This coming Wednesday are changes! I…. am staying right here in Mazate! That means that for the first time in my entire mission I will be completing 6 months in an area. I am happy because this ward and area are really great. I feel like the members definitely support and help us out as missionaries and I feel right at home here. I am not supposed to know that I don’t have changes until tomorrow but Elder Banegas told me on Saturday haha. That is the cool part about having a prior companion as the Assistant to the President:)
The zone is really low right now to be honest…we only have 2 baptisms for the entire month of October…that is bad. Some of the other zones have like 20-30… I have been trying to figure out what is going wrong in the zone but it has been really hard to put a pin on it. I have been talking a lot with the Assistants and with President to figure out what we can do but it just seems like the missionaries lost their focus and stopped working with diligence. My companion and I have hardly been in our area this past week trying to get out with the other missionaries to work with them and see what we can do to help them baptize…we will see the fruits here soon in these last two weeks of October.
In my own area we had a good week. We had 8 more investigators in church yesterday! It was a good Sunday…we have a few great possibilities for this coming Saturday. We should finish up with one or two baptisms I am sure. It has been interesting though because like I commented last week a large focus is reactivate reactivate reactivate…I am trying to work with that as well and it seems like the members who have fallen away are much easier to bring back to the fold than to bring new sheep…that may have made no sense but whatever… Haha.
Fernando has a baptismal date for this Saturday the 19th of October. He is solid and has loved coming to church these past few weeks. He has a few little problems with his family but nothing that will impede him being able to be baptized. Fernando is a single 31 year old guy who paints for a living. He is super talented and really loves to ask us questions. It has been fun getting to know him and to teach him the Gospel.
Daniel.. the young man of 15 years almost got baptized this past Saturday but at the last minute his Dad said NO…that was a bummer. Daniel was super sad because he was really excited about his baptism. We had put the baptismal date for Satuday last Tuesday but on Thursday when his Dad was going to sign his baptismal form he got all upset saying that we were pressuring too much. It was even worse because Daniel told him, “No, Dad I am doing this because I want to do it”. I felt bad for the guy…we are going to go back tomorrow to his house to see what his parents say! Keep praying for this guy. He is awesome!
We have lots and lots of investigators right now. We are trying to stay focused on the most positive ones though so that we don’t lose time with those who are not quite ready yet. We found the cutest woman ever this week…her name is Odilia and she is in a wheelchair. She wheels out to the Central Park of our area every day to sell little suckers and peices of gum…she is super super humble and when we started talking to her she started crying telling us “There is no good life”. I was super affected by her statement when I testified to her of the happiness the Gospel brings into the life of one who is willing to accept Jesus as their Savior. It was amazing to see the change in her eyes as she listened. She commited to coming to church with us and she came yesterday. It was such a blessing to have that experience this week.
This is the true church. I love it and I know that through this church we will one day have not only eternal life but exaltation…there is a big difference. Do what you have to so that you can obtain all the blessings God has prepared for you. Exaltation has its price…lets pay it.
Elder Ty Russell

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