Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Closer We Get, The Deeper the Adversity 8.14.16

Family!! Well, this week we had Interviews with President, exhanges with our beloved STLs - Sister Lunar and Sister Folau, and what else??? Work work work work work. The usual:)

My companion and I have been really striving to focus on praying for a deeper love for the people here. The more you love the people, and the deeper your own personal conversion, the greater your desire to share the gospel. I'm pretty sure that's a proven fact. 

The only thing is, the more you love someone, the more vulnerable you are to other emotions associated. What exactly am I talking about? I'm referring to the feeling my companion and I felt this last week of complete depressed sadness when we had a progressing investigator who was ready for baptism next week flip a complete 180. 

The thing is, with everything in live, it seems the closer we get to God, the harder the adversity comes. I fully believe this can be overcome as we continue to live the gospel, but when it comes to major decisions, such as baptism, or even serving a mission, the adversity will try to pelt you to the ground. Why? Because more than a lot of people in this world, he of all people knows the blessings of the gospel. He knows what he's missing. What he chose to turn away from. And he wants us all to share in his misery. I read a talk this week about how the world has turned the idea of God and Satan into just that, an idea. The world makes it out to be as if they're ideas, figments of the imagination, to guide us in different directions during this life. 

However, they are the very opposite. They both are two very real people, with 2 very opposite very real desires. Our Father in Heaven knows us perfectly and wants more than anyone in this life for us to be the best that we can be. He is all knowing. All seeing. And it is our job to trust him. 

Typhoon season is picking up! And each of us missionaries is instructed to have a 72 hour kit. That'd be a good thing for all of us to have I think! If we are prepared, we have no need to fear. 

Love you all! Do a little extra for someone this week. Try to be a little better than the last week! This life is a life of learning and progressing. Don't forget it:)

The church is true. Joseph Smith was a true prophet and so is President Thomas S. Monson. And can I just tell you how excited I am for conference!!!! Still gotta make it through September first:)

Have a great week! Sending love always, 

Love Sister Russon

My Week With the Sick 8.7.16

Hello Hello! From rainy Tacloban!

Yes, it is starting to cool down (for the Philippines), and it is much appreciated. This week, I have been in and out of the hospital all week long. My companion, got sick, again. She has been constantly sick for the past 3 months I have been with her but this week was the worst. We hardly worked at all. There's another sister who was in the hospital in our area because she got Denge Fever. Please pray that no one else in our mission will get this mosquito disease. I have never seen anyone in such pain in my life. 

We stayed at the hospital with her for many hours this week and there were times I got the chance to finally do a little work in our area with her companion, Sister Prudencio - my batch:) 

Needless to say, it has been a trying week and I have had to learn a lot of patience when all I want to do is work. 

If you have time this week, or for a family home evening, read this talk at the bottom of my email about the Restoration. Not until my mission have I realized how real the gospel is. We get so lost in life that we forget. We all do it. We have to remember how short this life is compared to the next. We have to remember what our purpose is, and that we were lucky enough to be living on the Earth during this time in which the truth and fullness of the gospel have been restored. 

I think it was Elder Oaks who said - imagine that in front of you is a rope. This rope extends forever in each direction to your right and to your left. It is never ending. In front of you, you grab the rope and tie a piece of thread onto it. The rope to the left of the thread represents our Pre-mortal life. The rope to the right of the thread represents our eternal life after this one in which we are currently living. That means the thread...yes that's right, is symbolic of our life right now. That's how short it is in comparison. And yet, there's so much of our lives that we do that will influence the next one. 

Don't forget to do the little things - church once a week, read every day, pray several times a day. I promise you will feel a spiritual growth unlike before and with whatever you're going through, you will see things start to work out. They always will when we give our will to the Father. He made us. He made the world around us. He knows better than us all cause He can see the big picture. Trust Him. 

Have a great week. Love you all. 

Love Sister Russon

It Get's Better and Better

Hi Family!

Some great spiritual experiences this week!   I would like to share with you all about one of our investigators named Edward. He is the boyfriend of a less active recent convert. As we have taught them though, the less active has become active again. They are adorable when we teach! They lean in together each time we sing the hymn at the beginning of each lesson, and when any talk of the temple comes up, they give each other this 'knowing' look:) I've been a little worried about Edward because at times I've felt his girlfriend wants the gospel for him more than he wants it for himself, and it's so important that that is a personal decision. 

The other day, we were going over prayer and the process, how to make it sincere, etc etc. He says the closing prayer and stops in the middle because he can hardly get the words out without crying. The spirit was so strong! It was such a cool experience. After he finished, he was quiet the rest of the time we ate lunch and finally at the end, he explained that physically he felt something in his heart during that prayer, and it was unlike anything he'd ever felt before. 

Blessings blessings blessigns. He's getting baptized in a couple weeks along with 2 other people that my companion and I have found and taught. Heavenly Father is just leading us to these people who are so prepared! I can't figure out if it's just the people, or if it's us striving to be more obedient this cycle. Whatever the reason, I'm grateful. And I'm loving this area. 

Random updates: Typhoon season came early! We just had a stage 1 two days ago and the rain was just insane. Reminds me of my first area. So help me if I get hit by another stage 4. Haha, the adventures in the Philippines. 

Also, my favorite couple missionary - the Hansens went home today. They will be missed greatly. Love them so much. I just love the mission in general:)

Love YOU all too!!!! Thank you for the prayers and support! You are loved by more than you can physically see. Remember - happiness is a choice. So choose to be happy. And focus youre lives on the Savior. Everything will fall into balance. 

Sending hugs and loves, 

Sister Russon

The Wisdom of our God


First things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!!! The most beautiful woman of my life. Here is a shout- out to you. You deserve more than that. I'm sending you a hug. Catch it if you can. I'll be able to give you a real one in 8 months:) If you want anything else, I'll bring you a souvenier;)

This week has been full of people that seem so prepared for this gospel!!! It's so exciting! Investigators are coming out of nowhere, usually referrals from members, that seem ready. They are wonderful and I just love them. 

One interesting experience we had this week was when a member invited us over for dinner. He said he had an investigator who used to be taught by the elders that would be there, and we could teach him. We had never met this member before, so when we arrived at the address he gave us, we were surprised that it was the Tacloban Highway Patrol Office. The member...was the head chief, or whatever it's called. Hahaha, we walk into this room of about 10 uniformed men sitting in this office with our member, who is their boss, and invited them all to hear a missionary discussion. They mostly spoke Tagalog, so Maybelle, our wonderful Ward Missionary, helped us along the way and we concluded that spiritual discussion with a bang of success. I was scared to death at first, but it was really fun actually! There was such a diversity of religious beliefs in the room, but there we were, talking to them all about the plan Heavenly Father has for them, and this church they don't even really know they are already apart of. For the very fact that they are God's children, they are a part of it, even if not members yet:)

I read this quote this week (below). It is an excerpt from that piece I talked about a couple weeks ago, "The Ricciardi Letter". If anyone is considering a mission, I highly recommend they read this. I believe it with all my heart and love my mission:) Read away!:

"The wisdom of our God is epitomized in the missionary program of our Church. The Church asks young people to have a goal to be worthy to 'serve a mission'. What the outside world sees as brain washing, the Lord sees as striving for something so important that one would shun the vices of the world to not lose the privilege of serving a mission. Think of your life in 10 year increments starting from when you are baptized at 8 years old, from 8 to 18, 18 to 28, 28 to 38, 38 to 48, and on and on. What 10 year segment contains the most life changing events? Answer: 18 to 28. So the Lord understood the value of kicking off that critical time of your life with a mission. What better commitment for such an important period than to forget yourself for 2 years, delay formal education, and focus on God, Jesus, and everyone else but yourself. It is the perfect example of the classic scriptural saying, 'to find yourself, you must lose yourself'. You gain 10 years worth of life experience from a mission. You leave at [18], [19] for sisters, and return with 10 years of life wisdom and experience crammed into 18 to 24 months. In that age segment of 18 to 28, not necessarily in this order, you serve a mission, get an education, marry, choose a profession/occupation, and have children. There is no other 10 year increment with so much hanging in the balance. Wow, what a wise Heavenly Father to place the mission experience as the springboard for such a critical decade of life." - Daniel Humphrey (RM who served in England). 

Love you all! Seding the love always and always. Don't forget the little things in your busy lives - family time, scripture time, prayer time. You can find time;)

Love Sister Russon

Now a City Girl 7.17.16

Hey Fam!!!
Where am I?! I transferred to the city of all cities in the mission - I am now in Downtown Tacloban! Who's my companion? That's right, Sister Matautia. We stayed together! Our area was one of 6 areas that was closed because they didn't have enough missionaries to fill them since so many went home this last cycle.

I white washed in my first area, but that's when I was being trained. and my nanay did mostly everything. Plus that was tiny little Allen. Here, in Tacloban, after following up some Elders who were last assigned here and didn't update the area book, is hard stuff!!!! We have been struggling. Our area is HUGE!!! And there's so many people all over the place. I've been lost for lack of a better term.

However, we have been meeting the best people and I am loving it. There is a ward missionary here - her name is Maybell. And she is adorable. She has helped us TONS and we are now good friends.

There's one investigator who has really had an influence on me and his name is Dennis Maslog. He is half Philippino, half Scottish. He looks exactly like Jake Graham! I had to take a double take when I first saw him. Hahaha, maybe that's why I like him so much because he reminds me of my cousin. Anyways, lived in Scottland with his family until he was four years old and his mom died. After that, his father just didn't know what to do, so he brought Dennis back to the Philippines and dropped him off with some family of his moms who are members. He's been here ever since and is now 19 years old and working like a maniac and going to school so he can get out of the Philippines and go find his dad. This kid has a pretty big dream and he's gonna need God's help. We're trying to figure out how to get him to see that even though he's busy, if he learns more about the gospel and makes it more centered in his life, because it's true, he'll see the blessings in his life and everything will begin to work out and unfold. His Dad's name is Dennis if any of you know a random Scottish man by this name, there's a kid here in the Philippines who I'm sure would love to know:)

The missionary work continues on, and is just a constant mental, emotional, and physical struggle between keeping yourself motivated, to being perfectly obedient, to willing your legs to continue walking even after they refuse. Haha. Love it. It's so fun. And I'm not saying that sarcastically. There's nothing like the mission.
Love you all tons and will update you on everything next week\!!!
Love Sister Russon

Open Your Mouth 7.10.16

Maupay  nag aga!! Good morning!   It is beautifully overcast here in the Philippines...rainy season is upon us. Hallelujah, I think I made it through the worst of the heat without melting like a Popsicle.  

One cool experience I had this week ended up being a desperate answer to someone's prayer. God has a plan. My companion and I get on this bus to go home from Tacloban, and I stick my bags on the top shelf. The whole time during the ride, I'm thinking to myself, "Do NOT forget the bags before you get off this bus". 

....what did I end up doing? I forgot the bags when I got off the bus. Do you know what was in those bags? Everything. We had just come back from exchanges with the sisters and I had my whole life in those bags. I realized what I had done as soon as the bus had rounded the corner and out of sight. 

We knew where the bus was going, so we hurried and called a member who has a jeepney if he could take us to the next town over and catch the bus. The amazing man drove quickly over, and we hunted down the bus. The whole time on the bus I was praying hahaha. I promised Heavenly Father that if we found the bus and I was able to get my bags back, I would OYM (Open Your Mouth) everyone on the bus. In short, OYM means you introduce yourself and share a short message about the gospel and give them a handout. 

Thank you Heavenly Father! We found the bus, and I OYMed all the people on board hahaha. Luckily they didn't even realize I had left the bags or someone might have taken them. We left and the member drove us back home in the jeepney. Missionaries are not allowed to hand out money to anyone, but we always pay jeepney drivers so we figured this was the same thing. We gave him a little extra for his urgency in helping us. 

The next Sunday, this member bore his testimony. And he cried. He didn't say it flat out in front of the congregation, but from what we heard we found that the money we gave him was a desperate answer to his prayers. His family was struggling to put food on the table. And even with his struggles and the price of gas, he didn't hesitate in helping us that night. Haha, I think Heavenly Father made me forget those bags so that we could help that man as he was helping us. Miracles all around! I love being a missionary!

Transfers are this week and we don't know what's gonna happen. There's a big chance Sister Matautia and I could transfer. We find out later today! 

I love being a missionary. The more you submerse yourself in the gospel, the more you love it:)

Love you all so much! I pray for you all all the time!

Sending hugs and loves!

Love Sister Russon

The Ricciardi Letter

Happy 4th of July!!!  I'm missing the promised land just a little bit more than usual today.  Ha, earlier, I made my Australian companion sing the national anthem with me for our companionship study. She's a saint:)

This week has been busy. Thursday and Friday we had exhanges with the STL's in Tacloban. Which means I got to go on exhanges with ....drum roll....Sister Folau! My buddy from Calbayog. Wow I love her. I really enjoyed visiting a less active of hers - Sister Thilma. She's this extremely educated 17 year old who lives in this tiny house and has an even tiner room in which she covers with her Picasso paintings. I say Picasso because their style is quite similar. She has these gorgeous paintings covering this tiny room and each picture has a story. I wish I would've taken a picture of it! 

One thing I like about Sister Folau is she gets my brain working. We always end up having the most spiritual deep discussions. She shared with me something that I think may have just changed my life. It's called the Ricciardi Letter. It's about this crazy amazing Italian trainer this American missionary had during his mission in England. I highly recommend you look it up and read the whole thing for a family home evening one night. It's 23 pages long, but gives you a really good insight to missionary work and how this trainer did it so well. Plus the whole thing is hilarious .This missionary, Elder Ricciardi, would wake up each morning, look at himself in the mirror, and say to himself, "I Fear No Man". When this American greenie first saw this, he thought his trainer was freshin' out. Ha, thinking of the look on his face makes me laugh. The thing is though, this Italian missionary wasn't kidding. And he lived it. He was born for missionary work and the whole letter is so inspiring. Read it read it read it!

We also had an activity on Saturday that my companion and I planned. It was a really good turnout, even though we only had one investigator come. The whole branch loved it and during the presentation section, us 4 missionary did our Samoan dance that Sister Matautia taught us. Look at us, becoming so cultured;)

Love you all so much and don't forget what the Lord has done for you. Even after all we can do, we will continually be in His debt. And He's okay with that because He loves us. 

Fear is of Satan. Faith is of God. So choose faith. I promise it's the better of the two. 

Love Sister Russon

"We can say we believe in Christ as we believe in the sun at noon day, not that we can see it, but that by it, we can see everything else" 
 -C.S. Lewis

Spiritual Slap I Desperately Needed 6.26.16

Hey Yah Family! What a week it has been!!!! The work this week has been in great short supply. My companion has been super sick all week! Do you have any idea how awful it is to be sick on a mission? What do you do? You can watch the 3 church movies we have, read the scriptures, and listen to Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Yeah. It's a real party. Pretty much all you end up doing is eating and sleeping. 

However, one amazing thing happened this week! We had the most spiritual Zone Conference with Elder Bowen - one of our area Seventy. Half the mission met together in Catbalogan - my old zone! It was like coming home, it felt so good:) There's a lot of missionaries I wanted to see in the other half of the mission, but it was all good. You can't win with a situation like that. If I would've been in the other half, I would've wanted to see all the missionaries in this half I would'nt have been able to see. Can I just tell you the joy it is when all the missionaries get together? Haha, it's like the Celestial Kingdom. It's like seeing family. So so fun!

The best part thought was the actual meeting itself. President Bown talked about this guy named...Roger? I forgot his name. He is the man who broke the 4 minute record for the mile. Before he did this, it was known to the whole world that this was physically impossible. No one had ever done it before. However, the year after he broke it, 5 other countries beat his record. The whole concept of this was False Limitations. And that is what President Bowen has said we have adopted into the mission - false limitations. 

Throughout my mission, all I've had is the other work of missionaries to compare my work to. Several times, my companion and I have had the highest in the mission for the most investigators (Yeah I feel like I got that down, now I just need to figure out how to get them to come to church!). With this comparison, I've always felt, "Wow! We are on fire! We are doing so good!" Haha yeah, wrong! We are not on fire. There's so much more we could be doing! The whole central message to the meeting was RAISE THE BAR. And the few times we've been able to work after that meeting, we surely have raised the bar. It's fun! There's been so many more people we've talked to, we've been bolder in lessons, and the spirit is a stronger presence with us each day. 

Love love love being a missionary. 

My invitation to you? Find the false limitations in your life. Whether it be work, school, church. And get rid of it. Life is too short. Raise the bar and you'll do things you though you never could. 

Don't forget you have time each day to read the Book of Mormon. I LOVE the Book of Mormon. My favorite chapter as of lately has been Alma 5. I'm on my 3rd time reading it in the mission, and I feel like I've gotten more out of it than the 10 times I read it before the mission. It all comes down to real intent:)

My love for you is great!!!!! So is the Savior's. Remember Him. 

Love always and always, 
Have a maupay day!

Love Sister Russon

Pictures from Dagami

Happy Father's Day & Happy Halfway 6.19.16

First off, Happy Happy Father's Day to the best one out there!!!!!! - I was thinking about you all day Dad. Hope the girls did something fun or made you food. You deserve it and much more:)
Second, I hit the halfway point.....what???! That just came too fast. I'm on the downslope now and I know it's just gonna fly by.
This week has been a great one. Who knew I'd be learning all this stuff that I am? This week I have learned how to dance the traditional dance of Samoa - thank you Sister Matautia. And, I'm learning sign language. Yeah, add that to the languages I've got all jumbled in my head. There's a girl here in our area that is deaf, so she's been teaching me so we can communicate. Hopefully I'll learn enough to figure out what her name is:)
There are two people who's stories have touched my heart this week and I want you all to know about them.
The first is our recent convert - Michael. He is amazing. Such a strong testimony and love for the gospel. However, the poor kid has had it rough these past couple months after he was baptized. He's 20 years old and shortly after his baptism he had a bad encounter with some mobsters and was stabbed! He went to the hospital - but he might has well have just stayed home. The doctors here don't know what to do for him. He got it sewn up, but some vital organs have been damaged and he hardly sleeps each night from the pain. He can't even get a normal job because the pain is often just too much. He's been struggling in his faith because of it; wondering where Heavenly Father is in this trial.
The past month in lessons with him he's said there's just no spirit in his life anymore. He just feels like giving up. He hasn't been reading or praying or coming to church...until....this week! He's back at it. He said he's coming back, he's been doing the things he needs to and not only is he back, but so is the spirit in his life. He's strong and we hope he sticks with it. Sometimes following the commandments is just plain hard. But at least for him, he realizes the difference of what was missing in his life. And he realizes there's a reason or a lesson in all of his trials. He's amazing!
The person who touched my heart this week was Nanay Gina. She is a member who we both didn't know very well, but invited us over this last week to teach her husband who is a nonmember. Her husband never showed up but that's okay because we were meant to be there for her. She opened up about how hard it is having a husband who doesn't know the gospel in his life and he doesn't support the family either. Her kids are all active and all she wants is for them to be sealed to her in the temple. It was a crying night for all of us and we all became super close. She wants nothing more than for her daughters to marry worthy priesthood holders in the temple so that they don't have the struggles she is going through now. She honestly is just the cutest sweetest lady in the world and she absolutely adores the missionaries. We will be visiting her much more often. Love her!
So on that note, I would like to invite each of you to attend the temple this week. We are so close. There should be no reason we don't go at least once a month. The people here work hard so that they can make the expensive flight to go to the Cebu temple, and they usually only have that opportunity once a year because it's pricey. So take advantage of the temples near our home. We are SO lucky! There's much to learn and much revelation to receive and our spirits need it. So go to the temple! Go go go!!! And while you're there, feel free to try the roles in the cafeteria, I hear they're really good:)
LOVE you all so much~! Much more than words can say! And I can't wait until I see all you're faces again! These next 9 months are going to go insanely fast. I feel like June just started yesterday and it's almost over. I'm trying to enjoy the mission as much as I can and work as hard as I can while I'm here. 
Try to enjoy you're lives as much as you can. It's gonna go insanely fast. We're only here for a short time compared to eternity to enjoy your family, enjoy the little things, know that everything is always going to be okay if you put your trust in our Father in Heaven. He's much more a part of our lives than we often realize.
Center your life on Him and the Savior and you'll feel the strength in anything you must go through.
Much love! Alofa ate!

Sister Russon


Alofa Atu! (6.12.2016)

Alfa Atu Family!

That means I love you in Samoan - my companions teaching me the lingo:)

I am loving being a missionary more and more each day. It's such a blessing and a privilege. 

Sister Matautia and I are doing great in our area. She is a bundle of personality haha. We just have so much fun and laugh all the time. And at the same time, we're working hard and loving the work and finding tons of investigators and doing our best. 

Dagami is small town but the people here are full of life. I can't even tell you how many kids there are in this town. I swear they come by the hundreds. Sister Matautia and I are well known by all of them - a Samoan and American in a tiny philippino town...haha all the kids know who we are. We'll walk around a corner and hear, "Sister!!!!" and then have to prepare ourselves from the herd of tiny things that come running at us. They are so dang cute!

Some of my favorite people we've met so far are our boys - Recmar, Aldwin, John Rey, Jay Ar, Aldwin, Jay, and Michael. Most of them are less active recent converts. The others are investigators who dont want to get baptized because they are pretty sure they'll go less active. Haha, this happens, and yet, they all have goals eventually to go on missions. These boys are 16-20 and we love them. They're all best friends. Hopefully we can help them to get it figured out. Pray:)

A miracle happened this week! My companion are walking down this street of this kind of far area - it was my first time visiting this specific part - and we run into Brother Sturgill!!! What?! He was with a group doing community service. Amazing. The crazy part was, he had just been saying before he saw us that they needed to drive around and find me so he could send a picture to you all. And then we walk around the corner haha. It was fun to talk to him and see pictures of the work they've been doing. We talked to them for a bit and then he gave us a ride back home for lunch in his car. Can I just tell you what a blessing it is the few times during my mission I've actually had the priveledge of riding in an actual car!!!!! Enjoy it while you've got it. 

Love you all so much!!!! Thank you for being my amazing wonderful family!!!!!! I love you all tons and pray for you all the time. Miracles happen every day. The more sensitive we are to the spirit, the easier it is to see God's hand in our lives. 

Sending love always, 

Sister Russon