Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Conference April 2016

Hello Hello!!!!

 Well, we finally had the opportunity to watch conference this week! It was amazing. I surely did miss watching it at home on the couch in pajamas with the family while someone's cooking breakfast, but I've never gotten more out of conference spiritually than I did this one.

 We watched it in the chapel with some members and all of the other missionaries in our district. I'm so sad, I forgot all my notes at the apartment! So I'm just going to try to remember the ones I thought were great! President...Eyring? I think is the one who spoke about the lost sheep and how it usually has been a term applied to missionaries and members seeking to share the gospel with the world, but it's also referring to the Savior and how he will always find His lost sheep.

I'm pretty sure Elder Uchtdorf is the one who spoke about how Heavenly Father cannot force us into Heaven. It is crucial that we have trials and temptations because with trials and temptations come choices and with choices come agency. We have to choose Heaven. It's not something we just randomly come upon as we're meandering through our lives. There was a lot of other great talks! I loved this session!

 There were some surprising things from conference too. I think you would all be surprised about just how cut off from the world we are here. Elections are going on in the Philippines right now and it is the main focus. No one cares about the world news even on a daily basis, but especially not now. Many of us were shocked when we heard about the bombing in Belgium - I think it was in President Nelson's talk. What a miracle that the four missionaries survived but what a horrible thing to have happened. Yeah, we were all shocked that we hadn't heard of it happening thus far.

 Really striving to get our investigators progressing this week. If any of you remember P, the 11 yr old who just loves us who has a really horrible family background, we met her older half sister, C, this week. C is just golden. She's 22, married (unusual that they were married, it's rare in the Philippines) and has a little boy. She's only been taught twice, and the second time, she invited a bunch of people to listen and taught them all how to pray, while P - who is 11! - bore her heartfelt testimony of her experience in coming with us to Glady's baptism.

Then, their uncle stopped by for a quick visit in the middle of the lesson, and shared his whole crazy story about their family and the parents of P and C and what horrible paths so many of them have gone down because of drugs and alcohol. Then he points at P and tells her sternly she better not ever drink or take drugs and that she better do exactly what we ask her to do and stick with us always. Hahaha, even though they have a lot of problems, they're just a great family.

 This week, during our lessons, 2 times, a lizard has fallen from the ceiling and landed on my companion's head! Hahahahahahahaa, I laughed my head off. It happened once to Sister Erandio, my last companion, and it scared her to death. Karma is gonna get me, I know it's gonna happen one of these days.

 Spiritual thought of the week: Our MTC President in the Manila MTC gave a talk about how this life is like climbing an escalator - One that's going down, while we're trying to go up. It symbolizes temptation and trials. The top is where the Savior is, or the Kingdom of Heaven. Our climb is our dedication to following the gospel. The point is, if we stop, we will always drift away from the Savior. If you're not getting closer to Him,. you're getting farther away. However, you can't just go through the motions either because you'll never get anywhere. You actually have exert effort in getting to the top. I know it's worth it.

To quote from Elder Holland's talk at the end of conference, "The great thing about the gospel is you get credit for trying".

 Love you all to pieces! Try to be-the-extra for someone this week! Everyone needs someone like that, even if it's something small.

 I'm so grateful for you all and for this gospel in my life! There's a lot of people here who have been through a lot - I'm always amazed at how ignorant I was back in the US - and I often think to myself, "Why did I get so lucky?"

With the blessings we've received comes great responsibility. Remember why you're here. Remember your purpose. You're eternal purpose.

 Much love, Sister Russon

 Answers to moms questions:
     Laundry: Calbayog has a laundry place (bliss) that I use. My companion thinks the whole laundry place is wierd and abnormal and she refuses to use it, so she washes all her clothes every week because that is what she has done her whole life. Hahaha, the cultural differences is so fun sometimes.

    Companion: Things are getting better now that my waray waray is much better and her English is slowly improving, so we can communicate better. She is great. It's hard not to love her. Sometimes the language barrier is stressful for me. I have been explaining to her about computers. Before her mission, she had NEVER used one. Only a typewriter!!!! It's fun to talk about the differences.

     Food: In allen, it was always rice and chicken or beef or veggies because that's all they had. I'm gonna be sad when I get transferred from Calbayog and dont have my super metro grocery store. Every day for breakfast I eat oatmeal and an apple - fast and easy - , sometimes eggs. Lunch and dinner is always sandwhiches, salad, fruit. I'm being so healthy:) salad every day and fruit every meal. We have dinner appointments occasionally or go out to eat or at zone meetings when I am immersed back into Philippino food, which is good. I like it. There was some wierd stuff in Allen that was out of the norm. But nothing makes me happier than a normal peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. Reminds me of home:)

    Apartment: It is a complex, each apartment is right next to each other. Ours has two floors - the bedroom and study room upstairs.

Hardest Work Yet!

Hi family!!!!! 

Love you all! How are you doing?! You are all the best and I love you so much! xoxo

 This week has been crazy! Big surprise, every week in the Philippines is crazy. Sometimes I miss the ignorance I had in my 12 weeks when I didn't know how to be a missionary or understand anything that was going on. Ignorance is bliss, let me tell ya.

 This week we had exchanges with the STLs in Catbalogan, so we traveled all the way over there, about an hour and a half drive away. Honestly, one of these days I'm just going to save up enough money to buy the van myself so I can drive it because these drivers are crazy. If I can handle this, I don't think I'll ever get car sick again in my life!!!!!

Exchanges are always good. It's nice to see how other missionaries work, especially ones that have been in the mission longer than you.

One fun thing that happened this week was we had the opportunity to have dinner with President and Sister Maurer! They were just in the area and invited us to dinner with them. We got to eat at their hotel with them and just talk about their families and the mission. It was really fun. Really good experience and opportunity to get to know them better.

One of the best things that happened this week was Sister Angeles and I found 32 new investigators. That is more than triple my record in the mission so far. This means 32 people were taught the Resoration or Plan of salvation for the first time this week. A lot of them were big families and we're excited about continuing to teach them! Woohoo!

Last week we had the opportunity to go to a baptism of an investigator of the zone leaders. Her name was Gladys and the baptism was so spiritual! Her younger brother, who's a convert himself and helped in her conversion process is the one that baptized her. His name is Cian and he is currently preparing for his mission this month! Immediately after he baptized her, the two hugged and just stood there in the font sobbing. Afterwards, when Gladys came back out, she bore her testimony and she just cried the whole time. We all did. She talked about how that is now one of the best experiences of her life because she literally now feels clean. She spoke a lot about how she has made so many mistakes and has a pretty dark past, but her brother Cian never gave up on her and believed in her and helped her get her life back on track and introduced her to the missionaries. What a blessing! It's amazing how the gospel does nothing less than change lives for the better.

I finished Jesus the Christ this did that take forever. But it was such a wonderful experience! If you have the opportunity to read it, I highly encourage it. It's amazing how much my testimony in the Savior has been strengthened just by learning more about him. One thing I've realized and learned more about this week through different experiences is that I don't think we fully realize just how much the influence and judgements of God work in our lives. And I probably will never have a perfect understanding of that. But there is one thing I know, it's that if we are feeling the consequences of the sins we have committed, it is not our Heavenly Father who is bestowing that upon us always but Satan himself, who is laughing in his victory over you because you yourself chose this. That's a part of how agency works. No matter what we do, our Heavenly Father is always ready to accept us back. The Savior's atonement doesn't come with exceptions. So, returning back is completely up to us.

Our father in Heaven loves us more than any mortal being could because his love is perfect, which means He wants nothing more than for us to draw nearer unto Him and do the things in this life that enable us to stay clean and strong and overcome trials and temptations.

 In the words of Joseph Smith Sr, "It seems that folks these days seem to fear god too much, and trust in Him too little".

 We already have enough to deal with in this life without the added problems associated with the things we have done wrong and the mistakes we have made. We will always make mistakes of course, but repentance is a gift from a loving savior and is meant to be used. Let us take advantage of it fully, find a clean start, and strive to be the best we can the rest of the way.

 Sending heapings - HEAPINGS - of love to you all!!!!!
Have a wonderful week and strive to do a little better, a little more - read the scriptures, be nice, pray, simple simple:)

 Love Sister Russon

Oh the Places You'll Go

Family!!!! I miss you and love you all!!!

 Hope everyone is doing well! This week in the Philippines has been a weird one. I find myself laughing all the time because that's what I do when I'm in shock at whatever is happening and I'm thinking, "I can't believe that just happened...only in the Philippines".

 First off, my companion and I got chased by a crazy man! We were leaving this area and the way the neighborhood is set up - there's a lot of walls everywhere with small openings to get through. It's like a maze sometimes. As we're walking to get out, this man steps in front of us and is obviously wired up about something and he's speaking jumbled words. One hand is outstretched for money and the other is holding this wierd contraption made of forks and spoons.

I squeeze past to get around him and glance behind me to see my companion do the same, and then speed up my walking to get away. Hahaha all of a sudden, she's pushing on my back and shouts, "Run! Sister, Run!" This guy was trying to stab her with the fork thing! We ran out and through this basketball court full of men in which we lost him. Crazy, but we had a good laugh afterward.

Other experiences this week include having a drunk man just completely break down in front of us and tell us all of these problems he's having in his life and how he needs help and wants us to teach him.

We also met this girl named P who is 11 and just loves us to death. No one really takes care of her. She lives in this house and her father is there but he's intensively involved in all of these horrible businesses - I'll let your imagination figure that one out. It's easy to see she's been pretty hardened and toughened by her experiences so far in her life, but she loves coming to church and hearing about the gospel.

 This week, we worked really really hard, found a lot of new investigators, and then! None of them came to church. Not a single one. There's been a lot of drama in our branch between the members and leaders and it is a huge struggle for the missionaries. If I was an investigator and knew about all the stuff thats been going on, I wouldn't want to be involved either! It's probably a good thing I'm not completely fluent in waray waray yet or I might explode at everyone at the next testimony meeting.

It's one of those things that's like...what do you do? How do you get them to focus on the gospel and trusting God only when there's all these contributing influences from the members that is not for the better. We will just continue on I guess!

It's getting more fun to be a missionary now that I can actually communicate somewhat with people! 

Love you all so much! Thank you for being in my life! I love you death!

 Love Sister Russon