Sunday, October 16, 2016

Shiny Bows and Diamonds


Conference! Conference! Conference!!!

I hope I'm this excited for it when I get home. It's like Christmas for missionaries. A bunch of new spiritual quotes from God's representatives all wrapped in shiny bows:) I LOVED IT! There were some great talks in this one. 

The one thing I loved was how many talks there were about families. These were some random things I remember from their talks in general:

1. Your family are your investigators
2. If all your children knew about the gospel came from you, how much would they know?
3. You should bear your testimony as often as you can!!! In this increasingly chaotic and sinful world, your children can't afford to go without it. 

Conference was perfect timing for a lot of our investigators. For THREE of the families that attended, it was their first time at church. Miracles are happening and the branch is growing:) 

I think my favorite talk of the whole thing was Elder Uchtdorf's talk in the Saturday Morning session - the first talk of conference. He spoke about the miraculous state of the truth we have from the gospel in our lives. WE HAVE SO MUCH AND IT IS AMAZING! He went on to say, "We tread a path covered in diamonds, but they are often views as tiny pebbles beneath our feet." Do we fully appreciate all we have? 

The mission here in Tacloban is slowly changing. Over the past couple months with the guidance we've received in how to work harder and smarter, the overall 'magnifying-of-our-callings' is going up and it's so fun and exciting!!! I'm lucky to stay with Sister Healey again this cycle and we've got lots of goals and plans for helping the sisters and the branch and our area. Sometimes I think to myself, "How am I possibly able to do all this without melting from the heat, passing out from exhaustion, or running to the mental asylum because of stress?" Haha the answer is because of the divinity of my calling. It has nothing to do with us but rather with the priesthood power by which we are called. Probably in the in-between parts of my setting apart blessing came, "You will not melt, you will not stress and become an insane person, you will be able to walk the stairway to heaven up the mountain side and not fall off the edge from exhaustion, etc". My point is, whom God calls He qualifies. You can do any calling well because of the very fact that you are called.  

Sister Healey and I have had quite a few experiences this week where we've testified to the crowds. It helps that we're white. People realize we're speaking waray waray and they automatically think a miracle has happened. They gather. I love experiences like that. It's like the saying goes, "Sing your heart out"...we've changed it to, "Preach Your Heart Out". 

This church is the only true church on the face of the planet because it is our Savior's and is the ONLY one that has His fullness. It is the only way for us to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father and at some point, every single person on this Earth will need to be given the opportunity to accept it, or turn away from it. The time will need to come at some point, better sooner than later for those that will accept it so they can enjoy the blessings of the gospel in their lives now. 

Share your testimony. Pray for opportunities and to be guided to people who have been prepared. "Every member a missionary" - Gordon B. Hinckley. 

Love you all!!! Hope you can feel the hugs I'm sending:)

Love Sister Russon


The Growth is Unreal

Hey Hey Family!!!

Hey Hey Family!!!
I'm missing you all lots and am sending hugs:) I am 21 today! And wow have I grown more this last year than probably any other year of my life.

It's been one crazy week. We were in Tacloban for Mission Leadership Council for a couple days. Always super great to see all the other missionaries and hear President's most recent revelation and training for the mission. It pumps me up! And it's always so fun to apply it. I'm always before thinking, "Of course there's room for improvement, but what more could President train us on? What else is there?" Well he always finds something. And it's something that always makes a drastic difference. 

These last couple of months we've been focusing on teaching like the Savior. It's made quite the difference in the lessons we've had. We've been striving for greater participation from the investigators during lessons instead of us doing all the teaching and talking. They should be talking at least 50% of the time. How does this happen? Inspired questions on our part. If we can get them to bear their testimony or share their thoughts, they'll likely learn 10 times more from that then from just sitting and listening to what we have to say.  Teaching like our Savior is a skill to be developed over a lifetime, but it's something we can apply in most every aspect of our life, not just missionary work. 

Two days after Tacloban, we went to Calbayog! Back to Calbayog again, this time for a Zone Training Meeting in which we and the zone leaders gave the zone the training we received from President Maurer several days before. 

If I could make a list of the life skills the mission teaches you, it would be as thick as the bible.

We are excited for this next cycle!!! Transfer day is tomorrow. I'm not sure if Sister Healey will stay my companion, but I for sure will probably stay in Catbalogan. I love Catbalogan:)

I have a random assignment for all of you in Family Home Evening this week. Find the talk, "Turn off the TV and Get a Life" by John Bytheway, Listen to it! Listen to it, don't read. It's awesome and gives a good perspective on how much time we waste in life not doing things to get us closer to our goals.  

Sending LOTS OF LOVE!!!

Love Sister Russon

Witnessing a Priesthood Miracle

Hello Hello!!!!!
Hello Hello!!!
How much I love you all!!!!!! Miss you all tons and love getting updates always; THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! 

Can't believe it, but I hit my one year mark. I only have 6 months left!!!! Is that enough time??? Probably not. I'm just glad I'm loving it and that we're finding so much success! People are prepared. We just have to find them:)

One big thing I have learned in the mission is that the harder I work, the more miracles I see. It's so TRUE! Read Ether 12. Faith comes before the miracles. And part of faith is work. Faith without works is dead. When Heavenly Father knows we will share the gospel with everyone we come in contact with, He will guide the elect right to us! Or us right to them! It's amazing! The mission is amazing. What I would have done in life without this experience I do not know. Probably would've just withered away being an unproductive little soul with absolutely no influence on the world. Just living and breathing. Hahaha, that's a bit extreme:) But my point has been made. I love the mission. 

Many miracles have been seen this week. We have a family FINALLY getting married so that they can all be baptized. We have 4 baptisms of a return less-active's children this saturday, woohoo!!!!! The branch is strengthening itself and callings are starting to be carried out, activities are being planned, meetings with auxillary are being held. I can't wait for the day when I hear that Catbalogan actually becomes a ward. In this area, more than any other area, I have tried to magnify my love of planning activities, and we have had AMAZING results! This is because activities weren't a regular thing before. Sister Healey and I have taken it head on, trying to build up the branch. We've done 3 pretty big activities so far; one of them was just for the relief society. They had never had anything like it and they loved it! Even just getting an invitation for the activity the week before lit up these sweet nanays haha. This last week, we had one big branch activity and a bunch brought friends! New investigators! Hehehe I'm so happy I can just hardly even contain myself. 

One miracle I witnessed this week seemed as if it came directly from the New Testament. I've never witnessed anything like this before. One family we have been teaching - they are golden! Pretty much sitting in the baptismal font haha - called us this week asking if we could bring the Elders to give a blessing on their grandma. The lola (grandma) has already been in pretty bad condition for the last couple of years - not being able to talk or move well - because she had a stroke. As of recently she caught pneumonia, and when we went in to see her, she was lying on the floor of her house, body shaking, one eye closed shut, the other twitching, and I she was struggling to breathe, her body heaving up and down. We called the Elders and while we waited, taught them about Priesthood blessings. The Elders finally came over and game this poor lola a desperately needed blessing. Okay, I have a huge testimony of priesthood blessings; always have believed that they help in some way as long as faith is there and the desired outcome is ultimately the Father's will. But my testimony has greatly been strengthened after that experience.  Immediately after the blessing, the lola was still. Her breathing was completely normal. Both eyes were open just looking around. The result was instantaneous. Her body and brain are still not all there because of the stroke a couple years ago, but considering, she was moving fairly easily, readjusting the blanket on her and just kind of looking at us as we introduced ourselves and smiled at her. The family around her was just kind of in shock. And THEN! The Elders get up to leave and say, "Okay we're gonna go now Nay", and she managed an, "Oo", which means "yes". She spoke! Her family was dumbfounded. She hasn't been able to speak in a long time.  

Amazing amazing. Thank you parents for raising me in this gospel. I'm SO grateful. In a couple weeks is GENERAL CONFERENCE. I'm more excited than I've ever been. I invite you all to start preparing now. Prepare spiritually. Try to listen to conference with a question or concern in your heart. It's what our leaders suggest of us to that we are better able to receive personal revelation. 

Love you all! Hug each other for me:)

Sister Russon

How Do We Glow?

Hello Hello!!! 

Another great week here in Catbalogan!!!

This morning we had the wonderful opportunity of attending a wedding!!!!!!! This was a special one. The wedding of the A Family - investigators and definitely future leaders of the church. Their baptism will follow in October, which can now successfully occur because they are lawfully wedded and following the Law of Chastity. They've been investigators about 2 months and the one month I've been with them,it's been amazing to see them grow! The gospel changes people. It humbles people. It brings them closer to Christ. 

How is that so? Because it's His gospel. 

What better way to become more like someone than to learn of Him and follow Him. 

We had 4 baptisms this week - the D family. The nanay has returned during the cycle I've been here from being less active and her grandkids were the ones baptized this Saturday. What a priveledge it has been to see her change as the light of the gospel in her life has grown brighter and continuous. SHE GLOWS. She radiates joy every time we see her. This is a woman who works and works like crazy trying to support her family and the little they have. This is a woman who gets home late each night from work to a small house, usually a drunk husband, little food, no furniture, but a smile on her face. How does she do it? Her life, and the rest of her family are focused on the Savior. 

Below is an excerpt from the talk, "Light in Their Eyes", by James E. Faust: 

recently recalled historic meeting in Jerusalem about 17 years ago. It was regarding the lease for the land on which the Brigham Young University’Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was later built. Before this lease could be signed, President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, then president of Brigham Young University, agreed with the Israeli government on behalof the Church and the university not to proselyte in Israel. You might wonder why we agreed not to proselyte. We were required to do so in order to get the building permit to build that magnificent building which stands in the historic city of Jerusalem. To our knowledge the Church and BYU have scrupulously and honorably kept that nonproselyting commitmentAfter the lease had been signed,one of our friends insightfully remarked, “Oh, we know that you are not going to proselyte, but what are you going tdo about the light that is itheir eyes?” He was referrinto our students who were studying in Israel.

What was that light in their eyes which was so obvious to oufriend? The Lord Himself gives the answer: “And the light which shineth, which giveth yolight, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickenetyour understandings.”1 Where did that light come fromAgain the Lord gives the answer: “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometinto the world.”2 The Lord ithe true light, “and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through theworld, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.”3 This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes.

There's a reason the Plan of Salvation is also called The Plan of Happiness. Think about and ponder that. What can bring us true joy in this life? It comes by living the gospel. Becoming someone new. Holding family close. Living in such a way that we are clean and confident and have a proud Heavenly Father watching from above. 

Getting so excited for Conference in these next 2 weeks!!!! I want to hear what your favorite talks were! Remember, try to prepare yourself this week. Ponder spiritually on questions or concerns in life that you have and watch conference being mindful of those things. It's a good way for the Lord to speak to you through His representatives. 

Can't express the love! Love you all so much! Sending buckets full:)

Love Sister Russon

Lovin' It!

Maupay nga aga Family!!!
Can I just tell you how much I love the mission? We absolutely killed it this week. Working harder than ever, and you know what? Missionary work is so fun when you do that. Heavenly Father knows he can trust you and miracles happen. He leads these people whom He has prepared right to you and you sit there and think, "Thank you! I'm gonna baptize this precious soul of yours". :)
We have had several miracles happen this week and several more very interesting experiences.
The first miracle is the A Family. This is a family of professionals in the health industry. Families like this are rare to find that are interested in the gospel because most families we teach have hardly anything. The A Family was just prepared by God. Some elders ended up passing by their house one day and invited them to church and Brother has been to church every Sunday since. This week we taught them Word of Wisdom. To be honest, we were a bit nervous to share this with them because they know everything there is to know about every part of the body - that's their job - and although they're really good investigators, Brother questions a lot of stuff. Which is definitely not a bad thing. It just meant that we prepared this lesson really well. We started off by asking, "Do you believe God knows all things?" And then transferred that question to the Word of Wisdom and how we need to trust Him. Haha, there was a bit of a rant that went off about how Jesus drank wine and so on. But sweet Sister A brought it back together and bore her testimony that she knows the Word of Wisdom was a revelation from God through His prophet.
Literally 4 days later, we return to their house and Brother A tells us about how in one of his school presentations they regularly give for their business, he shared about "Joseph Smith's Word of Wisdom". Literally with the whole school. Hahahaha. He's still just an investigator and he's already killing it at the missionary work.
Another crazy experience we had this week was we were contacted by this guy I OYMed while on exchanges. He asked us to come to his office and give a short presentation in a seminar on what we were doing here in the Philippines and our roles as missionaries. So of course we were happy to do that! We prepared well and show up and realize...the whole thing was a scam. They took us into this room where this man was sitting well prepared for this presentation for us. He talked to us for an hour, overriding our requests to keep it short because we had appointments, and gave us his business spill on their multimarketing tree program and how we as missionaries can negotiate with their company to advertise for them since we visit so many people each day. The man was a bit taken aback when we gave a flat out NO. Hahaha, we did not come all the way to the Philippines to advertise a business that scams people out of their money. We came to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ! We taught all the office workers, took a picture with them (a normal thing, everyone wants a picture with the 'white people'), and left. It was a good learning experience.

I know this gospel is true with all my heart. The trick is getting people to feel it and know it too. After growing up in the church, I didn't even fully know myself until I went on a mission. That's why the power of the spirit is so crucial in teaching. Ultimately, it is the teacher. Anything we teach or say to them will not influence them enough in the way that the spirit will when they open their hearts to it.
I love you all!!! Thank you for all the support and prayers always. You're in my prayers gihapon. Much love always. Sending air hugs;)
Love Sister Russon