Monday, January 25, 2016


Hello Hello! 

First off.....I'm being transferred out of Allen!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!!!! What do I do what do I do?! 

I don't know where yet, I'll find out in the next couple of hours where, who my companion is, and what language I'll be That one is gonna be tough because my understanding as of this week has been top notch! The prayers or something finally kicked in so thank you! I had several people tell me my waray waray is very very developed and they were surprised this was my first area. On top of that, I understood all of this when they said it to me. Hallelujah!!!!!

My nanay left late last night. Sister Mortensen is gone and is on her way home. Crazy! Though the mission feels like it's going fast, it feels like a ways away until I'm at that point. Anyways, she is my:

HUMAN of the WEEK: Sister Mortensen - my trainer. She has got to be the most humble, sweet, pure person I have ever met in my life. Her patience with me has been indescribable, and I've learned so much from her. We've had so many great experiences these last 3 months and it's really weird that she's just gone. Good thing she lives in Utah so I can visit the lady. 

Since this has been her last week in the mission, it's been a pretty crazy week. On Monday, we went on a hike to a beach for P-day, and climbed a palm tree. The Philippinos cut slits in them as they grow so that they can climb up and get the coconuts. So, we saw a tree. We climbed it. End of story. 

We had a branch goodbye activity for her on Saturday. It was SO fun!!! All of the members are just so cute. It is amazing how much they love love love the missionaries. I felt like she was getting married or something. Everyone wanted to take pictures of us, and talk to her the whole entire night long. It was so fun, but both of us were exhausted at the end and we didn't even get dessert we were so crowded - yep, definitely what probably happens at any wedding. 

The party lasted a good 8 hours. That's right. Philippinos like to party. It started off with games in the backyard of the church. Hahahaha, I was laughing so hard. Everyone showed up in red, yellow, or blue, according to their team, and then we had relays. SO fun! (Don't worry Mom, I took pictures. Now I just need to find a computer that actually works in letting me download pictures. sorry:\ ). After the games, they gathered everyone in a circle and sat Sister Mortensen in a chair...blindfolded. They then proceeded to thank her for all of the work she has done and for being a part of our branch. They took the blindfold off of her and in her false hope, she stood up from the chair as a giant bucket of ice water was dumped on her head. Hahahahahahahahaa, I got it all of video too. 

The rest of the night included spaghetti (as usual), 5 different desserts made of rice (typical), and karaoke (of course). Hahaha Philippino's are just the best. 

Sunday after church, we went to Catarman. The APs were supposed to text us if I was transferring or not so I could pack and bring my stuff. They didn't, so I assumed I was just staying in Allen. The plan was Sister Mortensen and Sister Bshara would leave because they're both going home, and I would be companions until transfers with Sister Bshara's companion - Sister Rex, my roommate from the MTC. How lucky am I?! The two left last night, and then we got the text this morning that I needed to pack. There was technical difficulties on the AP's part. So early this morning Sister Rex and I took the hour and a half jeepney drive back to Allen, I packed, said goodbye to the roommates and my beautiful room with the ocean view, and we came back to Catarman. I am staying with her in her area tonight in Bobon and going to an  FHE with all the YSA's. So excited! Tomorrow I''ll travel to my new area. Where is it?! Where is it?!

So many changes; not quite sure how I'm feeling. It's easy to get overwhelmed if you think about it too hard haha. 

I'm gonna miss everyone in Allen. Especially since this last week where I've really been understanding more of what they're saying, they've been family to me while I was there. But, it's good to know that'll happen whereever you are in the mission. 

So my new area I'll go!

Love you all!!!! Pray for you all the time. Enjoy the simple things in your busy lives and don't forget to try to read at least a verse a day. 


Sister Russon

The End of 12 Weeks

This is my last week of training! My 12th week in the field! Wow
it flew by. I'm learning so much it's hard to figure out what to put
in my emails haha.

    This last week was simple and 'to schedule'. Which was really nice
because everythings been kinda crazy this last month. Sister Mortensen
and I made tortillas - hallelujah, thank you Mom for the recipe - and
we even, through our cunning and expertise, figured out how to make
cookies with a microwave oven and the challenges we face in finding
ingredients. Needless to say, we were very pleased with ourselves and
took a lot to the members who feed us often. They were excited to try
"an American snack"....even though they all ate the cookies upside
down hahahahaha. That cracked me up! They all did it. They took the
cookie, turned it upside down, and ate it. Don't ask me why. Why would
you eat a cookie like that I have no idea. But it just about made my

    We had zone interviews this last week so all of us missionaries in
Catarman Zone had the opportunity to talk with President one on one.
Interviews went well; it was nice to check in with him. He told me
it's very likely I could get transferred to a different area next
week, but only the Lord knows, so I'll just have to wait and see what
happens. There are endless possibilities. The only sure thing is that
I'm getting a new companion.

    Yesterday in Sacrament my nanay - Sister Mortensen gave her
goodbye testimony. Oh. Even though it was in waray waray and there was
a bit I didn't understand, the spirit was strong. Then afterwards I
sang, "How Great Thou Art". Thank her for that one, she volunteered
me. It was actually really fun though. I miss singing all the time!!!

    Human of the Week: Jay- a 10 year old recent convert that we
teach. I have never ever ever before in my life seen maturity in such
a young child as I see in him. It is incredible. His testimony is SO
strong and he has the most thought-provoking and wonderful insights
that he shares each time we teach him. His maturity comes from
experiences he had a couple years ago. When he was 8, his older sister
got pregnant really young and couldn't take care of the baby because
she had many many drug problems. No one knows where his mother was. He
basically took care of a newborn at age 8. AGE 8!!! Can you even
believe that!? Because the mother had drug problems while she was
pregnant, the baby had severe issues as well and died not long ago.
Jay took care of that baby all its life. I couldn't believe it when
I heard this story. He lives with his loving aunt now who is a member
too. No one knows where the sister and his mother are, but he is an
incredible example to me. Saturday we had a lesson, and all the kids
in the area wanted to sit in - there was about 11 of them. Jay was
standing behind all of them bouncing one of the neighbor babies on his
hip to keep her from crying, urging all the kids to be reverent during
the lesson, and even offered to give the opening prayer. This. kid.
is. 10. He is nothing less than amazing and you honestly feel like
you're witnessing a little miracle just being around him. Hahaha I
love him to death!

    We had the opportunity to listen to the area presidency speak on
the Sabbath this week. They spoke specifically about keeping the
Sabbath a Delight. For the most part, they spoke on finding those
things that you can do with your family and for those around you that
bring a little more of the light of Christ into your life. Whatever it
is, it should make you happy and peaceful and destressed from the
business of life. That's something I'll have to figure out in my own
way because Sundays are so different on the mission than at home. We
have to work and teach, just like any other day, but we are bringing
that good spirit to the people who's houses we attend, so all is well
in the end:)

Have a great week everyone! I love you all! Remember life is meant to
be happy. Focus not on the pursuit of happiness but on the happiness
of pursuit.

Sister Russon

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Happy 2016!!!

Kamusta my oh so special family!

This week has been pretty normal for once. Which is somewhat of a relief because with so much going on this last month - the storm, so many zone conferences, Christmas and New Years, and various things we've done in preparing my companion to go home. I finally feel again like the language and my teaching skills are progressing so hoorah!!!

Mostly the week has consisted of just plain good 'ol proselyting and teaching, and walking and sweating. The sacrament attendance is staying pretty high which is awesome! It's been a struggle to get the people we really want there. It's amazing how much the culture plays such a huge part in the personal conversion of these people. Most people, at least here in Allen, have such a chill island attitude. It also probably doesn't help that it's such a small town. Many of them don't really care about goals or what their future holds. They just like to hang out all day hahaha. I really don't know what they do all the day long. But because they're not ambitious in their personal lives, or committed really to anything, it is the hardest thing in the world to get them to keep their commitments when it comes to reading and praying and going to church. It's almost frustrating in a way because most of them seem to have such strong testimonies! When we talk to them about the doctrines and concepts they seem to really understand! But obviously they're not strong enough to know that action is the way to receive the blessings we know will come. 

Zone interviews are tomorrow so we get a chance to talk to President Maurer one on one! Transfers are in 2 weeks and a lot of the leaders think I might be transferring out of Allen to UEP. Our area is so small and we're not making tons of progress, so he might just combine it with the other Sisters' area that are rooming with us. UEP is a college town. The elders were taken out of it in the middle of the transfer last week because of something that happened. Now they're going to move sisters in this next transfer. So I might be one of them! No one knows for sure, they're just guessing. Who knows, I might stay in Allen. And whereever I am, there's also the possibility of me training which is kind of making me a nervous wreck but what can you do? Take it a day at a time and enjoy being the trainee at the moment. 

Transfer day was expected to be really fun for all of us. We were supposed to go to Tacloban, find out our areas and our companions, and I would've seen all my batch from the MTC! This is what has happened for the past couple of years. We found out last week that this won't be happening anymore. I will find out my area and companion the day before the new transfer starts, and I won't be seeing my batch:( Sad sad:(. 

Anyways, when I'm not freaking out about the transfer, I'm excited! It means I'm progressing in the mission! At the end of this next transfer, it will be midway through March and I'll hit my 1/3 mark! Woohoo!!!!!

The most exciting thing that happened this week, is that in the middle of the night the other night, I got locked in the bathroom. The handle is faulty and I couldn't get it open for the life of me. I was worried I'd rip it right off the door! I was in there for a good 20 minutes fidgeting with the dang thing and contemplating whether I call out to the girls, which would surely wake them ALL up and all the people downstairs because of the layout of our apartment, or if I should just sleep on the tile in the bathroom until one of them could rescue me in the morning. That's when I saw the small vent in the bottom of the door. Hahahaha, I took it out, and shoved my body through the hole. It was actually fairly easy, and I was very pleased with myself afterward. The girls were dying in the morning though. Especially Sister Resolme who loves to tease me. Thinking of me being stuck was absolutely hilarious to them hahahahah. 

Human of the Week: The person of the week this week is one of our investigators D. She's this older lady, who's teenagers are both members. Her husband wants to start taking lessons eventually but knows that he will have to give up smoking and isn't ready yet. She is the cutest lady in the world and has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. Her husband told us that during the storm, when they were leaving the house to evacuate to the church because it's one of the strongest buildings here in Allen, the Book of Mormon is the one thing she grabbed to save. He told her to leave it, but she simply refused. She's told us before that she often sleeps with it next to her pillow because it brings her comfort. Hahahaha way to go D! Before the storm, the two were saving up money so that they could be married and she could get baptised. She wants to be baptized so bad. After the storm hit though, now all of their little savings have gone to fixing up the house. It might be a while before she has the opportunity to be baptized, but she's still progressing and her testimony is going strong!

This week my companion and I relearned something we probably already knew before, but for some reason it just really hit us. In companionship study, we were reading the missionary handbook under health and read the scripture 1 Cor: 6:19 -" Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

This made me ask the question: If we had a complete and perfect understanding and testimony of this concept, would we ever go another day without exercising? Or would we ever eat another cookie again? Hahaha it was a simple question, but truthfully would we? I don't know, maybe not. 

Then Sister Mortensen said, "Well, if we had complete understanding of the value and worth and roles of the people around us, we'd likely never do another thing again that could potentially hurt someone." 

We decided maybe this is how Christ had the ability to be completely perfect. Perhaps even in mortality, he had complete understanding of the Father and the Plan and of His role as our Savior on this Earth. Perhaps this is why there are so many scriptures and conference talks about the importance of education and learning in this life because we'll carry it with us into the next. Through knowledge and understanding, we are slowly perfected. There. That's my spiritual thought of the week:)

My whole year in the mission, I can't believe it! 

Here, New Years is WAY bigger than Christmas. Christmas consists of like...the dinner meal. But new years, everyone blasts music all night long, there was even some fireworks. The kids also make this gun thing out of tin cans taped together and it makes really loud noises. But we were so tired that night we slept right through it.

Have a wonderful week everyone! I love you so much all of you and miss you tons. I'm growing and learning so much here and I'll be able to use all this for the rest of my life! The gospel is without a doubt the true gospel on the Earth today. 

Love always, 

Sister Russon

Yellow Days Follow Blue Storms

The power is back on at our home! Hallelujah! The water is back so we no longer have to bucket it up the several flights of stairs. 

Though the power is up and running on our street, much of our area is still without electricity, which means we have to come home early each night. It's against the rules to proselyte at night if there is no electricity - safety precaution. We have been struggling to say the least. Our area is already the smallest in the zone, it's also the poorest. Which means huge chunks of it received the most destruction in the storm, several investigators moved out of our area, and people are still hesitant to talk to us because we're both white Americans. It's really hard. For example, several times a day, some people ask us to not even teach at their homes because their homes "aren't nice enough", or they won't let us help with anything because they don't want us working because I dont think they think anyone really works in America. They're extremely intimidated sometimes, and other times they treat us like celebrities. Not a joke, we have people all the time whom we've never met that come up to us and ask if they can take their picture with us. And what did I do to receive all of this? I'm a white human. Hahaha it's very bizarre, but it's made the work really tough. President is going to consider redrawing the boundary lines and giving us more space to work with. 

After the storm, it's been really interesting to watch how different people have reacted and approached the new trials in their lives with the destruction of their homes or property. A lot of people seem depressed - I guess you could say - about their situation, and because of the denotation that comes with America here, they don't really like to see us because they don't think we have any idea what they're going through. Which in reality they're probably right. 

However, Sunday was a wonderful, uplifting day. When Sister Mortensen and I first got to the area, the average church attendance was 70 a week. For the last month it's been in the hundreds. And, due to the help of the branch missionaries and our work in working with the many less actives, yesterday we had 141 people at church! 141! That is amazing! We're hoping it sticks and that it's not just because of New Years resolutions and the relief they've received from the church after the storm. 

Relief Society though was the best part. We mostly just had a testimony meeting and many of the women spoke. All of the women were talking about the storm and it was like watching Miracle, or any other great sports movie where the coach has some amazing speech that rallies everyone together. They all had such profound things to say and it was very unifying. Hahaha, the meetings here aren't quite as reverent as they are back home, so there was a lot of cheering and hurrahing. It was really cool to witness. Though there are a lot of inactives, the strong converted members here are amazing and they help a lot in supporting the missionary work. 

This week, at least at the beginning, the language was just...not there. I can speak a lot in lessons. I can speak less in day to day conversations. And I hardly understand anything. Midway through, I was so frustrated I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was so sick of not being able to communicate, and sick of the frequent (all in good fun) jokes about my lack of understanding, the stares when people dont think I'm looking, and the list goes on an on. Sometimes, one just feels like a circus animal or something, with nothing better to contribute than to just sit there and keep smiling and laughing and changing your facial expressions to match those around you so they think you have a clue. Hahahaha it is sad. 

But, everytime I have days like that, there's always better ones that follow. Smiling and trying is all I can really do sometimes and that's what brings progress. Progress in my mood. Progress in the language as well. These last few days have been really good! I'm understanding more and more even if I can just understand the works really and not the sentence. And for heavens sake, if these Philippinos can stay positive after losing so much of what they once had, I can do the same in my own struggles, which are nothing compared. 

So keep smiling. Keep trying. And, the 3rd thing that's helped me this week is to continue to have an eternal perspective. Our day to day struggles are so SO small compared to the rest of our life and eternity. Better days always follow. Even if someones life was just one giant trial, it's hardly anything compared with eternity, de ba? 

I heard this song this week that I just LOVE!!! It's by Jenny Philipps. I got some music from one of the sisters who went home last transfer and it was on it so I've been driving everyone insane in my apartment probably for playing it so frequently. These lyrics are my favorite part:

Do you remember the promise you made back then, 
When you longed for the chance to show faith in Him?

Now that you're here and you're finding your voice, 
You're living the plan and you're making the choice
Where you stand. Where you stand. 

So, this is a new year! My whole year in the mission! 2016! Don't forget the promise you made. Keep the eternal perspective. 

Love you all!

Have a great week!!!!
Sister Russon

This spider was in the hospital!!! The wall its on is like 6 or 7 feel behind the door. Mom the spider was huge!!!!!!! It could've eaten me! I'm not kidding it was bigger than my hand!

It's not only true, it's real!

Hello Everyone!

This week was the simplest Christmas I've had in my whole life. Other than a spaghetti meal, the rest of the day is like any other for people in the Philippines. But it was nice to really focus on the meaning of Christmas, with none of the other things going on. It was really good for me and has helped me in making a lot of goals for the new year in how I want to improve. 

Our area has a LOT of room for improvement. There are few investigators, and we don't know when the last time there was a baptism was. However, when we first got to the area, sacrament attendance was at an average of 70 each week and these last two months it's been 100! Which is a crazy increase! It means a lot more less actives have been remembering why they first joined the church. 

The biggest thing I want to share with you this week is about Iglesia ni Kristo. Iglesia ni Kristo is a church that was started by a return missionary ex-mormon. The church does similar things that ours does, but there's a lot of the truth they omit and they are missing the priesthood authority of course as well. On top of that, unlike our church leaders, theirs make a lot of money off of the people who attend. The story here is that the return missionary who started the church is in retirement age right now, and has outwardly expressed that he made the whole thing up. That it's not true and he did it to make money. However, the leaders of each  of his churches continue to grow their practice makes them a lot of money. It's really sad. It's a perfect example of predictions from the Bible and the Book of Mormon of false churches arising in our day for the purpose of deception and for the leader's gain. On top of that, it's crazy to think that a previous member of our church started it! That just goes to show that there are deceitful people everywhere in this world. Our Heavenly Father is the only one who knows all things. 

One of the practices in Iglesia ni Kristo is to baptize each person until they say that they "See an angel or a spirit". For the most part, everyone else, members of the Catholic church, our own, and other churches assume that all of these people finally give in and say it when they're sick of being dunked over and over again. I've often wondered if anyone thinks this same concept of the missionaries when we ask them to pray about the Book of Mormon to know if it's true. Or about Joseph Smith. Or anything for that matter. That we ask them to just do it over and over and over until they "see something" or "know something". 

This is how it works. If you believe God is a loving Heavenly Father, you should know that He care's that you know the truthfulness of His gospel - because he loves you. He doesn't want you wandering about in uncertainty and doubt. Part of this life requires not knowing everything about the plan so that we can grow. But I testify to you that if you ask Him about the things in which you question authenticity, He will make these things known to you (James 1:5; Moroni 10:3-5). He will make it known to you if it is true or not, I testify from personal experience that I know it is true. 

President Costa of the 70 met the missionaries early in his life. Immediately following the first lesson, he spend 14 hours that next day, reading a part of Joseph Smith's account of the first vision and his part in the restoration and then praying about it. 14 hours! Straight! He says he did it until he received an answer. And the answer affirmed the truthfulness of our previous prophet and his essential part in the restoration. 

Unlike the specific number of licks it takes to get to the center of a lollypop, this number is not scientifically set. It is not applied to everyone or everything. It may take longer or it may take much less time, based on the condition of the person asking - their will and heart. Whatever your spiritual or religious question, if you still need an answer, are you putting in the effort required to know the truth of such a significant concept upon which everything in the world is centered on...our Heavenly Father's plan?

Being more Christlike - the Goal for 2016! 

Who is our Savior? Before the mission, I had a very strong testimony. I believe it all to be true. However, through much prayer and study each day in which the mission requires, it has hit me how real it all is. The plan is real. Our Savior was a real person who walked this Earth. He went about doing good and setting examples for us all, and then became the sacrifice for us all, so that not only could we be cleansed of everything, but we could return to our Heavenly Father again. This had to be done because no unclean thing can enter Heavenly Presence. If you have questions or lack a testimony, read the Book of Mormon and Jesus the Christ with prayer and intent. Then follow all of the Biblical references in Jesus the Christ. There. Problem solved. Many of your questions will be answered I guarantee. 

I read the other day a story of one of our previous prophets - President Ezra Taft Benson. The story was written by a woman who was in the airport one day, waiting in line trying to get a plane ticket. She was very pregnant, and holding a crying baby in her arms, along with trying to keep track of the luggage on the floor around her. Those in line were annoyed and frustrated with the crying and her inability to silence her child. A man suddenly came up to her and asked if there was anything he could do to help. She let him hold the crying baby, in which he was able to quiet through comforting it, and then he preceded to buy her ticket for her and get all her affairs in order for the flight. After talking a short time, he left and she never saw him in person again. The next day she did however, recognize his face in a newspaper article as the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

That is what it means to be Christlike. There are many people in the world, and most of them have difficulties we are unaware of. A simple act can change someones day, someones week, someones life. 

It doesn't matter who we are, what weaknesses we have. We have the ability to touch hearts through Christlike acts and that is an ability that needs to be exercised to be strenthened There is a much greater plan ongoing around us than the day to day things in our lives, but it is through those individual days that we must focus on the small and simple things in order to progress in the long run. Remember that few see growth while staying in their comfort zone. 

Make worthwhile goals and follow them this year. Hahaha make 'sticking to your new year's resolution' your New Year's resolution:)

Heavenly Father loves you all and is very aware of you each moment of every day. 

I LOVED the package! Aw! It was the absolute best! You guys are the best. I can't thank you enough!
I passed out all the bracelets that were for the kids. They absolutely loved them!\

Love you all more than I can say.