Monday, March 31, 2014

Traveling Some More

So this week we had Zone Conference! It was really good! The mission president talked about various things and it was very uplifting.  The bad thing about it is that, yet again, we were travelling a lot and couldn't work because we had to go to Ribeirão Preto which is a bit of a journey.  From the way travel worked out, we lost two days in Votuporanga. The week wasn't particularly fruitful either.  We lost several investigators that seemed to be very interested, but such is the way of things.  However, this week is a new one and we will definitely do better.  That is the good thing about a mission, there is always the next week to try harder.  
We did manage to have a good conversation with an investigator who has already received a testimony of the Book of Mormon but doesn't want to get baptized yet.  We think it is probably because he doesn't want to change his life.  It got me thinking about how much of what I do is because of what I believe.  Currently it is pretty much everything I do, but even before the mission; it had a big impact.  To be honest, it isn't always easy but it is always right.  It’s nice to know what is right.  When I am teaching people I don't have to worry about what questions they will ask me because I know what I am teaching is right, is true.  A lot of people think of church just as something good or something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but what I am talking about here isn't that.  It is the truth.  Because of that, it never matters to me if it was/is hard or easy.
I hope you all have a good week!  I love you all!

Elder Russell

Monday, March 24, 2014

Traveling the District

This week was pretty crazy.  My companion is the District Leader even though we live an hour and twenty minutes away from the city where the rest of our district is. And it turned out that everyone in our district baptized this weekend--which meant that we had to do interviews for everyone.  Because of money we couldn't really keep travelling back to Votuporanga every day so we did exchanges with everyone and did a tour of the district!  We didn't get back to Votuporanga until Thursday and then we had to go to a different city in our area for lunch.  Because of complications with buses, we didn't get back to Votuporanga that day until 5:00 PM or so.          
 Then on Friday we went to a different city in our area because we had to visit some people there. So we went to five different cities in one week and really didn't get a whole lot done in Votuporanga--except a baptism!  Juliano was baptized and it was basically awesome.  I don't have much more to say about the baptism except that it was as awesome as all the others and Juliano’s Mother brought really good cake that we all ate afterwards.  

Juliano's Baptism.  I am smiling like Dad, and by that I mean not smiling.
I will be hitting the road again this week for zone conference in Ribeirão Preto.  I am pretty excited since it will be my first zone conference.  
If there is one thing Brazil has it is hope.  It’s the young people here who are taking the lead in everything.  I honestly haven't met a whole lot of rich people here because it is pretty hard to encounter them since they live in high rise apartments in the center of cities, but the ones I have met are almost always young.  The younger generation is way better off here than the older ones.  Brazil is really moving to be a top tier nation in every respect.  

The world cup is coming up and I hear that it is likely not to be without hiccup.  I have heard that there will probably be a lot of protests because the government is spending a lot of money on the world cup while other services, like education, are severely lacking.  The education here is perhaps as good as the education a student would get if he only took the courses required to pass high school in America.  The biggest difference with schools in America is I had the choice to do other things. Brazilians never have the chance to take calculus in High School like I did.  Our education system may not be that great at the lowest end, but what is great is that you can choose to have it be way better.
I am very happy to be here.  Everyday I get to learn new things and meet lots of new people. Lots of them are interesting, some of them are crazy, only a few of them get baptized, but I love them all.
I hope you all have a good week! I love you all too, I think.  I guess there could be some people reading this that I don't even know so I guess I can't exactly say that I love you yet but I am sure you are awesome people.

Elder Russell

Monday, March 17, 2014

Waiting for Winter

 The weather there [in New York] sounds amazing to me.  It continues to be in the 30s every day here (in Celsius that is).  I hope you are enjoying the long winter.  I can't wait for winter to arrive here.  I hear it might reach the lows teens (in Celsius) during the winter here.
This week has been a crazy one.  The mission president wants all the companionships in the mission to do 140 contacts during the week; or in other words, talk to 140 new people every week about the gospel.  Usually we haven't quite been reaching that number so the zone leaders (the leaders for a group of missionaries, sort of a type of middle management) came down hard that we all need to do our contacts.  So we knocked doors.  We probably knocked 200 doors this week.  It was really rather successful.  We have probably 50 addresses to return to, and we managed the 140 contacts.  It was actually the first time in Elder De Oliveira's entire mission that he had done it (obviously my first time also).  Other than that we have been doing the usual stuff: teaching lessons, trying to do it better and better, and finding new people to teach (emphasis on the last one).  
We will probably have a baptism this week for a son of a member in the branch.  He is 11 so we still had to teach him and interview him because he is older than 8.  His Mom was inactive when he turned 8 and his dad isn't a member so he hasn't been baptized until now.  He and his family live on a farm just outside the city.  We arrived in the house and waited for a bit until Juliano (the kid we are going to baptize) came riding in on a horse. Brazil: where you can drive five minutes outside of a city with 100,000 people and your investigator arrives by horse.  It was pretty awesome.
I hope you are all having great lives with whatever you are doing.  I know I am having a good one right now.

I love you all!

Elder Russell 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Wedding and A Baptism

This week was a story of how, on a mission, things don't always work out the way you plan, but if you do your part they work out better.  
We had planned to baptize a woman named Joice last month. She had been going to church off and on for FOURTEEN YEARS but for one reason or another had never been baptized.  Most recently, she had been living with a man that she wasn't married to, so she couldn't be baptized. But then she decided that she wanted to be baptized, so she left the guy and moved in with a friend.  We taught her all the lessons in about two days (which was extremely easy since she kind of already knew pretty much everything), and planned the baptism for the next Saturday.  Then all of a sudden, tragedy struck our little missionary world when she returned to live with her boyfriend again.  We were really worried and prayed and fasted that next day that everything would work out.  It seemed to us a major set back but it wasn't. Last Saturday Joice and her now husband, Willian, were baptized.  It didn't work out like we imagined it would.  It worked out better.  

We also made French toast with strawberry drink mix blended in and it was really good.  

French Toast

I love you all.  Have a great week.

Elder Russell

Monday, March 3, 2014


        Hello everyone!  This week I want to tell you that one of the awesome things about being a missionary is that you get to meet very interesting people.  We have fallen into a web of very interesting people here in Votuporanga.  At the middle of it is a lady who for the sake of the story we will call Anne.  That is not her name but let's keep things annoymous.  Anne is the mother of an inactive member we have been visiting and she also likes to talk to the missionaries.  She is very intelligent and curious but she is a little bit crazy.  I should tell you that she believes that "Jehovah" is on the moon studying the materials there.  That just kind of explains the kind of things Anne believes.  She isn't really interested in being baptized but we visit her because she gives us the names of lots of people we can try and visit.  But these people are usually pretty weird too.  We met a guy who she referred us to who owns a furniture store with an amazing collection of antiques on the floor above.  He has a degree in law, and is a very well known member of the community here in Votuporanga.  He is also the member of a group who study alien landings.  He is a little strange.  
        Then there was another person we met who told us that we couldn't come in because he was busy doing a spiritual initiation.  However, other people that she has referred have been awesome and either way it keeps things interesting.
        This weekend we will probably have three baptisms and a wedding all on the same day.  A couple is going to get married and then baptized and then another lady will get baptized the same day.  Its going to be a crazy Saturday but it will be super awesome!
     The cold weather sounds really nice.  We were talking with a woman this week who said that one time in Votuporanga it got really cold.  It was like 40 degrees.  That was like 20 years ago and she still remembers.  I wouldn't mind some cold right now. 
        I hope you all have a great week!  I love you all!
Elder Russell