Monday, March 20, 2017

Alofa Atu Philippines


The time has come!!! My mission is just about complete and I am going to miss this place and these people like home!  Philippines I love you !!

What a crazy experience a mission is. It definitely didn't go as expected, but that's a good thing because I learned more than I ever thought possible. My mission has been FULL of miracles, laughs, smiles, tears, and the most wonderful people!!!! I'm going to miss being a missionary!!!

This week was a great way to end it off. First of all, I found out that this family I taught in my last area, the husband of which I was the first to start teaching, was BAPTIZED!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!! That's the best news ever. This week, we went to Ormoc on exchanges with the STLs and I got to practice more of my Cebuano;)...The language I was assigned to speak and never did, hahaha. Waray waray is the one for me;). The rest of the week was full of finishing off training Sister Aumua, packing, saying goodbye to the members, and finding some AWESOME new investigators. The next missionary assigned here is going to be so lucky!!! And THEN, on Saturday, we had a wedding!!! With member Geraldine and our investigator Christopher who will be baptized next week. President Maurer himself performed the marriage and it was a great day. It's fun that I got to start and finish my mission with a wedding:)

Sunday, yesterday, was one of the most emotional days of my mission. Cried a lot. I'm going to miss my wonderful companion - Sister Aumua, she is the best!!! Amazing Amazing!!! Just like a sister.  All four of us sisters sang in church - a combination of Bring the World His Truth and As Sisters in Zion. I could not even make it through the song I was tearing up so much. Why did we have to pick a song about missionary work! Haha, all the sweet members were crying. We took lots of pictures afterward, and then went around and said goodbye to everyone and were fed a lot haha. I LOVE Dagami!!! 

I know this gospel is true and that unexperienced peace and happiness enter into our lives when we embrace it and strive to become strong in it. I know the Church of Jesus Christ was restored and that Joseph was a true prophet of God. I know our Savior lives and that he lived perfectly so that we could know how. I know He died for us so that, if we choose, we may return to Him again. 

I'm so jealous of the missionaries still here who get to carry on this great work, for it truly is one of the most important amazing things a person could do is to be involved in the changing of a life and soul through the gospel of Jesus Christ!. 

I love you all! Excited to see you, 

Sister Russon

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In the Face of Opposition


It has been a challenging one - but as always, the more challenging something is, the more you grow. One thing I've learned on my mission that has really helped me is learning how to have the spirit even when you are faced with opposition. 

We've had several interesting experiences this week that have taught me more about this. The first one was, last Monday, I'm sitting in the lab emailing, when the man next to me looks up some anti - mormon sites and some unfavorable information about Jospeh Smith and the Church. And then, in a voice loud enough for the entire lab to hear, he asks me if this stuff is true. For example, "Is it true that Joseph Smith did...(this and this and this)" . Haha, and then he precedes to look up a video on YouTube entitled, "What the Mormon Missionaries Don't Tell You". Well, I gave him the site to the church so he could have more reliable information, and then talked to Him about the gospel. I don't even know what I said or how I said it, but I testified that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the gospel had been restored. By the end of our conversation, this man was reading the Restoration pamphlet and committed to come to church. Haha, it's an AMAZING feeling to feel the spirit work through you. 

Another occurrence that happened this week was when we met a man while waiting for a jeepney to Tacloban. He was a man of little faith, though religious, and believed every truth needed a very logical scientific explanation. The ironic thing is, everything does have a scientific explanation, but it may not yet be to the knowledge of humankind. He pretty much told us that he would listen to us until he caught something we said that didn't add up, and he would know we were liars and only pretending to teach the truth. Again, I felt the Spirit work through me and my companion and we testified of the power of holy ghost in testifying of truth. 

I LoVEd these experiences and hope both these men one day open their hearts to the gospel. 

My heart is full of appreciation for my mission as the close approaches. It's going to be a busy week this week. I've been asked to give a training on tuesday with my companion in Zone Conference on being an extraordinary missionary. Wednesday and Thursday, we go to Ormoc for our last exchanges with the STL's. Saturday we should have a wedding for an investigator so they can get baptized next week. Sunday is my last Sunday and I'll speak in church and be singing with my companion and roommates. 

There's nothing like the mission. It's the best:)

I Love you all and I'm so excited to see you!!!

Love, Sister Russon

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 4 and Counting


Well, the trunky talk from my fellow missionaries has started. They are all excited for me to go home and Sister Aumua and I have hardly the time of day to think about it!!! There is too much to do here in Dagami to even think about that yet!

This week was awesome!!! We had 6 new investigators at church on Sunday for the first time!!!! Wow! Miracle from God. That was a blessing especially because Sister Aumua and I have found most of them ourselves. Hopefully they'll be baptized within the next couple of weeks. It's amazing how prepared they've all been for the gospel. We were just there at the right time. They were already ready to change their lives and make these covenants with God. 

One fun thing this week has been figuring out the marriage of one of our investigators so that he can be married to his wife who is a member. Actually, the paperwork has not been fun at all. It's been a headache. No wonder no one gets married often here, the process is so complicated!!!!! But! The process is just about finished and they should be having a double wedding with the other sisters' investigator couple in our branch. So fun! The baptism should be soon following. 

Anyways, I love you all! Thank you for the support and emails. You are all missed and loved. 

Love Sister Russon

6.7 Earthquake



Wow, I miss you all. I'm counting the weeks but not yet the days. I've become more appreciative of the things I know I'm going to miss - the kids screaming, "Sister!" and running up and throwing their bodies through the air to hug my leg, the banana que, the coconut trees, buko shake, speaking waray waray, the members <3, the list could go on and on:)

I was greatly surprised this week to find out who my new kabalay (roommate) was...... THE Sister Garcia!!!! Wooooooo!!! Reunited with my MTC companion!!! It's been so fun sharing the same apartment with her. She's great and it's fun to compare ourselves to the last time when I was with her...the MTC. How we've grown. It'll be fun spending the last cycle with her. 

This week Sister Aumua and I were invited to a birthday party by a random guy and his family we met on the street. He was close with some missionaries years ago; he told us he was catholic and not interested in us teaching him but wanted to be friends. Well we took the opportunity where we saw it. We show up at his house for his Birthday lunch party and were a bit shocked and a little over intimidated. Wow, his house was huge and so nice! We walked inside and saw a few people, thinking we'd be meeting his family and a couple friends.....oh no. We are guided around the corner into this huge room where at least 25 tables are set up and over 60 professionals (teachers, business men, and government employees) are chit chatting and lined up at the table of food the catering crew had set up. Mind you, this is not an everyday sight in the Philippines. Every head in that room turned and was on us hahaha. Fun experiences with the mission. We ended up talking to several people while I was sufficiently communicating to their tagalog - all these languages here haven't killed me yet! - and we ended up taking pictures with the birthday couple as they blew out their candles....sadly probably not cause we're missionaries but because we're foreigners:) Still, great experience though! And we were happy to be fed:)

We found one area this week that is harder to be received.Everyone there for the most part is the same religion and they call us missionaries "the convincers".( I give them credit on their creativity). We visited one lady, talked to her and shared a simple message about the gospel, and she informed us the second visit that all her friends were secretly watching and rushed over to her house as soon as we left to tell her to stay away from us. Hahaha, we're not going to kidnap the old lady! We are helping her learn about Christ! These people crack me up sometimes:)

The biggest event that occurred this week was I was in an Earthquake! It was so strong! I've been in little baby ones a couple of times but this was was a 6.7 at it's strongest in another part of the Philippines. In that part, it actually broke up the road and some people died. It wasn't that strong in Dagami but it literally shook the house for a good 25-30 seconds. Crazy! That was definitely a first. 

The mission is so fun! All these growing experiences I would never have had before. Love you all so much. Thank you for the constant prayers and support. Stay happy and healthy and safe. 

Love you and have a great week!

Love Sister Russon

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Miracle of the Church


Hello Family!!!

I don't even know where to start with this week. Nothing big happened, but tons happened at the same time. 

Our branch presidency is just awesome. President Bulanon is an RM and knows what's goin on. We've been working with him at lot these last couple weeks and I have been given the task of training our new Branch Mission Leader - Brother N - who was an investigator I taught last time he was here and now I come back and he's a member! Love it when that happens. 

In our Branch presidency meeting, we came up with a lot of new ideas to implement to make sacrament more reverant, one including sitting in families. All the old best friend tatays who sit in the back and giggle with eachother like a bunch of teenage boys probably aren't gonna be super happy about that haha. I love them:)

One funny experience that happened this week was when we went to visit  a bunch of little kids who were just baptized. When we teach these recent converts, all their little friends accompany them and we usually end up teaching 10 of them and the parents. Well we're finishing up the lesson, and I pull out my planner and it's covered in Off Lotion - it broke open and spilled all over my bag! On top of that, it was bright purple because it had spilled all over my purple wallet and started to eat away the color. All the little kids ( they literally are so cute! I need to adopt a Filipino) they come up with the brilliant idea of having me rub it all over their skin. So I start taking handfuls (not an exaggeration) of this purple lotion out of my bag and rubbing it on their hands. All of them got so excited and would hurry and rub it in and then say, "hatagi pa!" which means, "give me more!", so I'd give them another handful and they'd help rub it in on eachothers legs. Hahaha, it was so cute. 

We had exchanges in Ormoc again this week. This time I was with my batch  and MTC roommate - Sister Rex whom I love to death. It was so fun working with her and to be able to speak Cebuano. 

One thing I realized this week was just truly how amazing the church is. A lot of people we teach ask, "Why do we even need 1 specific church?" For them, it's enough to believe in God. But through the church, miracles can happen. It's been called, "The atonement delivery system". Jesus Christ established it himself and it's essential because we can gather in families and learn about becoming followers of the Savior and leaders and teachers and gospel doctrine experts and speakers and socialists as we gather together as saints like we gather in families. I saw this amazing change take place in our new Branch Mission Leader. Last time I was here, he was a man struggling with word of wisdom and being the guide he needed to be for his family. Now, a complete change has occurred. He's learning to be a leader. He's magnifying his priesthood and there's a whole new atmosphere in his home. His kids are more obedient and respect their parents and have testimonies for themselves. 

The church is true. Joseph Smith was a true prophet. 

Love you all, 
Have a great week and enjoy the snow:)

Love Sister Russon




Wow, what a crazy week it's been!!! It FINALLY STOPPED raining a couple days ago!!! It was flooding everywhere!!! We were working in water up to my ankles. 

Had a couple miracles happen this week - 

First, one day we got punted a million times. Punted means, you cant catch a break and be recieved by anyone to teach a lesson. We must've talked to over 35 people that day and by 5:00, we'd had one lesson. I was not feelin so hot. Around 6:00 after dinner, I tell my companion, okay, we are not going home until we get 4 lessons. I say a prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father would guide us to someone who was prepared for the gospel that would recieve us, and two seconds later, this girl in her 30's waves us down and tells us the missionaries used to teach her and her son is a member and she loves who he is as a person because of the gospel in his life and she wants to be a member. Haha. Thank you Heavenly Father. Missionaries stopped teaching her because the people she lives with don't like missionaries and it was causing them a lot of contention in their home. But we were able to teach her with one of her neighbors and now we have several new investigators!!!

The next miracle, we went to one of our investigators houses name E. She has been an investigator FOREVER because her daughter is a less active member. She reads the book of mormon all the time but is a strong Catholic and has never been to church because the Catholic church has been her life and of course, it would be hard to just up and switch religions. We went to teach her this lesson thinking we probably wouldn't be coming back any time soon because other than reading, she wasn't progressing at all. We start the lesson with a prayer, and she asks to share something she read in 3 Nephi chapter 11. It was about Jesus Christ being baptized in the water by the proper authority. She then tells us, I need to be baptized in your church becuase I need to be baptized the way God has commanded us. Uh, thank you again Heavenly Father! Hahha, I have a newfound testimony of the Book of Mormon and it's power. It changed her heart. She committed to come to church and received a baptism date. The next step is getting her there. 

Miracles happen when we have faith and do the Lord's work. I know this gospel is true and it has brought unexplainable happiness into my life. 

Love you all! Have a great week!
Sister Russon

I FINALLY Spoke Cebuano


Yes, Cebuano was the language I was assigned to speak in my call letter. No, I have not spoken t a single day since I left the MTC!!! ...until...this week!!! President realized our STLs in Tacloban were a little stressed because they had too many sisters under their jurisdiction, so they stuck us with the Ormoc sisters. We got to go to Ormoc this week! I've never even been to that half of the mission! ;The Cebuano half. It was great working with them, though a little trying. I completely can understand Cebuano. It's the speaking it thats the difficult part. The muscle memory of my talk just wants to spit out waray waray. Considering the circumstances however, I thought I did pretty good:)

Sister Aumua and I are doing great. I'm amazed at how fast she's picking up waray waray. She definitely wouldn't say that it's coming fast but in remembering how slow it came for me, she's rollercoastering through the language. And, she's teaching me a bit of samoan in the process:) We have fun together, she's like the sister I sometimes want to give a good beating to...haha, I say that with the utmost amount of love:) This morning, she had me believing I had lice in my hair for a good 2-3 hours. She decided to tell me the good truth after I bleached all my sheets and hair combs. Yeah, salamat Sister Aumua. 

One funny thing that happened this week - it was late and dark one night and we were trying to make it to a recent converts house at a good time, so we could teach them before they put their kids down. I come up with the bright idea to take a shortcut down this muddy street. Mind you, it was only 20 minutes after we had been hit by a major rain storm. We were slowly making our way across this slippery muddy street, trying not to get mud all over us. I turn around to tell my companion to be careful, when I turn around, take a step on what was not solid ground, and feel my foot squish into a muddy hole halfway up my leg! I pulled my leg out and the whole thing was black.....and my shoe was gone. Yes my companion was dying of laughter. I then had to put my foot back into the black hole full of who knows what and retrieve my shoe. The family we went to afterwards got a good kick out of it. 

Another experience we had this week involved one less active sister we refound. When I was last here, she was active. But the members told us it was a while since she had been to church, so we visited her. She was only 18, but she opened up to us that she got pregnant, and the dad left her and she's too shy to come to church because she feels guilty. We were able to talk to this struggling sister for a while and leave her with a comforting prayer. Hopefully, she'll be able to feel the light of the Atonement in her life and be able to move on emotionally and spiritually. 

The mission is great and I love it and I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to help Him restore the gospel on this Earth. Wow are we so lucky!!!

Love you all, 
Have a great week!

Sister Russon

Training Week 2


It's been a wonderful week in Dagami! I'm back in my old huge apartment and have had a wonderful time  revisiting members and getting updated on whats happened these last 6 months of everyone's life since I was last here. 

It's been an interesting transition in coming back. Last time I was here, my companion and I got pulled out of the area because a HUGE batch of elders went up and the mission was lacking missionaries. President had to take some missionaries out of the areas that were struggling in progression and my area was one of them. Now that I'm back, after being here last and not seeing much progression, it's interesting how much potential there really is in this area and how much there's always been...what's the difference? I'm a completely different missionary than when I was last here. 

Sister Aumua, my trainee, is doing well. Still struggling with the language, but everyone we visit just lights up with motivation when they find out she needs help in learning - theyre very eager to assist:)

We've had some miracles and other interesting experiences happen this week. Here's a quick little update:

- Members from the branch have offfered to pay for the marriage of 2 investigator couples we have! Wooooo!!! As soon as that happens, they can be baptized. 

- Stopped, talked to, and ask to teach a lady and her family who have been watching the missionaries walk by her house for years without ever giving her that offer. Her cousin is a very active member in the church and is a great example to her. We have taught her twice and she's already reading the Book of Mormon and has a baptismal date. She now keeps telling her family and friends, "I'm a Mormon", hahaha. 

- Taught twice another very strong Catholic family. They're wonderful and very eager to learn. However, from what they've said, they don't plan on keeping any commitments or applying any of this into their life. They're very kind and love our visits, but if nothing changes, we'll need to spend that time teaching others who are ready. 

Other than that, we had a super fun zone activity at the mission home where we made legit american hamburgers and played volleyball and some water relay races. The mission is the best:) 

Love you all, have a great week. Keep looking for ways to serve others. 

Sending love always, 

Sister Russon

Back to Dagami and Training


Hello wonderful family!!!
I miss you all so much! It was so good to see you all on skype!!! 

A lot has happened in the last week! I was surprised by President when he called me to train again. Even more surprised to know it would be in Dagami, an area I was assigned in about 7 months ago. My new companion is wonderful - her name is Sister Aumua, from Samoa. Hahaha another Samoan. Everyone here thinks she's Sister Matautia - my last Samoan companion who I was assigned with in Dagami. She's having a hard time with the language which is normal, but other than that, she's doing a great job at adjusting to everything and I'm really proud of her. 

Being back in Dagami is surreal. I'm a completely different missionary than I was the last time I was here and it's been fun these last couple of days to see the potential this area has and what we can do with these new people we'll find. Training is not easy, but my trainee is making it easier because she's so willing to do the work, and I hope I'll be able to help her as much as I can and get her to a point that she is feeling confident in her abilities before she receives her next companion. 

Hug each other for me. I love and miss you all. Happy 2017; make it the best year yet!

Love Sister Russon

Merry Christmas 2016!!!!


Hello Beautiful Family!!
Merry Christmas Merry Christmas! 2017 is right around the corner but let's enjoy the season at this time! This week has been really great and spiritual as we tried to help families understand how they can make this Christmas the best one yet as they strive to focus on it's true meaning.

We had some baptisms this week!!!!!! Two cute little investigators, the son and daughter of a just returned less active family. They have golden testimony and were SO excited for their baptism. Future missionaries for sure;)

My blessed companion got SO sick this week, the weirdest thing. I was really worried thinking we'd need to go to the hospital, but after a couple priesthood blessings, medicine, and prayers, she recovered quickly and we were able to catch up on visiting investigators.   

Other than that, we've got a busy week ahead of us: 
     Today we have a zone acitvity in Calbayog that hopefully will go through - it's hard organizing big activities as a missionary haha. 
     Tomorrow we have Zone Conference in Tacloban which will be fun and Sister Portin and I are singing .
     Wednesday Exchanges with my first roommate in Allen Sister Resolme!
     Thursday, we're speaking at a baptism and then we have our branch Christmas Party
     Friday, Exchanges with my batch, and MTC roommate, Sister Heath! we've also been asked to sing at Branch 2's Christmas party that night. 
     Satuday, we get to baptize my first full family in the mission!!!! Woooo!!! This has been a long awaited day and we're super excited! Plus it's Christmas Eve! We've been invited by a member to eat at her restaurant at their staff party. There hopefully will be fireworks that night as well:)
     Sunday, Merry Christmas Philippines!!!!! I'm just expecting to get sick eating spaghetti all day - that's what happened last year:)
     Monday - Call family! Merry Christmas America!

And then work in between, and...
that's a wrap:)

Have a Merry Merry Christmas! Love you all! Do something extra special this year to remind us of how important the Savior is in our lives. 

Love you!
Sister Russon