Saturday, August 29, 2015


So I have entered in the last two months of my mission.  I have decided to talk a little bit about the stuff I learned on the mission.  I know that I still have time until my mission is over, but I have only a few emails to send and I have lots of stuff to write so I will begin now. 
The first thing that I learned is the power of a smile.  I know that sounds really cheesy but it is true.  I am not a naturally smiley person which is not helped by the fact that my facial structure naturally looks like I am frowning. I never worried much about that.  But I have learned that if you want to talk to someone, the conversation already is going to be different if you are smiling before you've said anything.  I have talked to literally thousands of people here and a lot of them didn't really want to talk to me, but if I was smiling a lot of times they smiled back without thinking.  When I see people on the street, sometimes I imagine them smiling and realize that people really are a lot better looking if they just smile. You also just feel a lot better if you smile.  "Fake it till you make it" is real.  If you smile you will be happy.  You don't have to be happy to smile.  I guess this post was really cheesy like I said, but sometimes cheesy things are true and we are just too cynical to admit it.
Well I hope you all have a good week! I love you all!

Elder Russell

Monday, August 24, 2015

Busy Week

      So this week was a bit busy.  Last Wednesday early in the morning we got on a Bus to Rio Preto and then we divided and I went and worked with one companionship of Zone leaders and my companion went to work the day with another.  The day was nice.  I ate a lot of cake; it seemed like everyone offered food.  Then Thursday we went to Birigui and we divided with the zone leaders there.  Birigui is a funny city.  There are lots of busineses with the names like birimoda (moda means fashion) and biripaes (paes means loaves of bread) and other such biri-things.  Hence we have nicknamed the zone of missionaries, "biri-zona."  Then at night we ate the biriguizao which is a sandwich that is huge as the picture shows.  It was nice since my whole mission the fame of the biriguizao has been heard and now I finally had a chance to eat one.  It was quite big. 
       Then Friday we went to Aracatuba to give a training and Friday we went back to Birigui to also give a training.  Then we got on a bus at midnight to come back to Ribeirao Preto.  We got here at 5 am, went home and slept till 6:30 am, and then got up and went to church.  It was a long week but it was quite fun and included a lot of eating.
        My Mother reminded me that I have to talk about the baptism picture.  So her name is Tatiane.  She has been going to church for months and Elder Lisot had even stopped teaching her before I got here because she didn't want to get baptized.  Then she was in sacrament meeting and just felt that she wanted to get baptized and so she was.  I guess everyone has their moment.  It isn't good to rush it.  It also isn't good to just let it go.  But it isn't good to worry about other people's choices when you can't control what they are doing.
        So I hope you have all have a good week!  I love you all!
Elder Russell 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finally a New Post

           So being Assistant to the President isn't all that different from being secretary, except that now I don't have as much stuff to do in the mission office so I spend much more time proselyting.  I also have one more meeting with the mission president to talk any specific problems in the mission.  And we also do exchanges. Lots of exchanges with the whole mission.  This week on Thursday night at 10:30, we got on a bus and went 500 km to a city called Andradina, exchanged with the Elders there and then at 9:30 pm, we got back on the bus and came back. Needless to say, I am a bit tired.  Next week will be even crazier. We will go to Rio Preto and do exchanges there on Wednesday, and then we will go to Birigui on Thursday and exchange there and then we will do trainings with the missionaries in Aracatuba and Birigui on Friday and Saturday and then we will get on a bus Satuday night to come back to Ribeirao to go to church in our assigned ward.  So I can already tell you guys that I will not write on next Saturday, only afterwards. 
             Being assistant has given me a better window to see a bit how the Church works.  There is a lot of bureaocracy in the mission as in all the stuff in the Church.  Lots of numbers and we are looking for results (baptisms) and it can all seem just like a business.  But when we talk to the Mission President he is only really worrying about the missionaries and if they are well.  He sends us on exchanges with specific missionaries, sometimes just to see if they are well.  God does His work among men, one by one.  He changes the world, one by one.  He worries about us, one by one.  We are special to him, none of us are forgotten.  I know that that is true.
I love you all and hope that you have a great week! 
Elder Russell

P.S. Photos: We also had a baptism. That is a cool story that I will try and tell another day; and a wood house because there were some in Andradina which is really uncommon in Brazil.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Transfers Again

So I will have to retract two statements that I have made to you earlier.  The first one is that I will be leaving the office next Monday to be a zone leader... that is not true anymore.  The other is that I am done with assistant stuff since I had finished those trainings I had to do.  These two statements will have to be retracted because on Monday the mission told me that I am now an assistant to the president.  For those of you who are not familiar with mission hierarchy, every mission has two (or rarely sometimes more) assistants to the president.  As the title suggests, we assist the president directly. The mission is very organized with every missionary having a leader to whom he reports with titles that have been mentioned like district leaders who report to zone leaders. The zone leaders however, report to the assistants, who report directly to the mission president.  So I just skipped the whole zone leader thing. I hope that isn't a problem.
It was kind of funny.  The office people just went into a meeting with the president and he told the other assistant (we had only one for about a week) that he and the other assistant would do something. He was confused and asked, “Who is the other assistant?”
And president just said," Oh you don't know?  Elder Russell is the new assistant." And that is how he announced it to me.  Sometimes he is funny.
He also told me afterwards that he has known since I was seven months into my mission.  It would have been nice if he had told me earlier because a lot of stuff would have made sense.  But I am excited about all this.  I think this new assignment will give me many opportunities to better myself and keep working until the end.  
I love you all!  

Elder Russell

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hurry Up and Wait

This week I had to train some zones of missionaries with the assistant.  It was rather strange to train the zones since I was never even a zone leader.  But now I am done being assistant.  Next week will be transfer week and it will be different since I am waiting to see where I will be transferred. But I am also really not that interested to know where I will be going.  I know a lot of stuff so I have already narrowed it down to only a few options that it could be, but I think it will be nice.  There is always a chance that things will be different.

I am also doing a bunch of stuff but it is also a lot of waiting since I have to let the missionary couple do everything.  A lot of times I know what to do but I have to let them do it and they aren't always as quick as I would be.  However, I have to wait or they will never learn.  So it is a lot of waiting until there is a crisis that they can't resolve which is becoming less and less common.  I am well.  I love you all!

Elder Russell