Thursday, December 2, 2010

Russell's Email 12-2-10, THE LAST EMAIL OF THE MISSION

Family, What's all this last email stuff? It's the end of the transfer (almost), and that's all it feels like... I really can't fathom the thought, even though it's a few days away. Thanks for those lovely reminders that my mission is almost over lol.
This week has been much better. The Lord is watching out for us and as we do our best he is helping. I was worried about finishing strong and so I knew I needed to get away from my area, at least for a day, so I went on exchanges with the zone leaders yesterday and we had a good day. When Elder B. and Elder V. were in my area yesterday, they found a couple new people to teach and set someone for baptism. I know God loves it when we go on exchanges, and he gives special blessings on those days.
Last week Elder V. and I spoke in both of our wards. It was a really good experience and I felt it did a lot for the trust level of the wards we cover. I have a new gratitude for the McMinnville ward and their love for the missionaries. If I am ever a bishop, I will have a note on the pulpit that has the missionaries names and I will have all the new missionaries share their testimony their first sunday. This whole transfer I have worked to build ward relationships one dinner at a time, and to speak in church you build that relationship with the whole ward at once. I love it. I also started with my joke, and this is how it went, "I would like to go ahead and apologize, usually my mom writes my talks but she had to give a talk today too so I had to write my own..." Always gets a good laugh, but after the primary sang "Love is spoken here" I cried and told them you didn't write my talk because you were talking. tender moment that I Wanted to beat those little kids up for, they made me cry in front of the ward.
funny story- Yesterday morning the phone rings and it's sister Christensen wanting to talk to my comp. Elder V., happy birthday! Huh? He asks, "I forgot today is my birthday." Because his watch said Nov 31 and he didn't switch it, he forgot his birthday. I thought it was hysterical! lol
Things are going well here, and we have a good rest of the transfer planned out. I'm looking forward to the rest of the time because every day will have something that will force me to be productive. No better way to finish strong than to have no choice. :)
Thanks for your compliments. I'm still not perfect, and sometimes I wonder if I have accomplished what Heavenly Father needed or wanted me to, and that helped me to feel his approval. Love ya'll.

Russell's Email 11-25-10, titled "Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End"

Wow, do that was the most in email that I have had lately... I'm not really sure where to start for this week.

This week and this transfer continue to be a trial. I'm finding more joy and more satisifaction in the work though. Something I think that needs to change when talking to members is really their racking their minds of who missionaries have previously talked to. We just found this super sweet girl who has taken the lessons before but has had some really bad things happen to her in the past and she just didn't understand the healing power of the atonement, that's all she really needs to understand. I hope we will get to have a lesson with her soon but it took her company and us talking to her for the member to remember that she was taught before... I dunno. fun stuff.
It's been a decent Holliday so far. We managed to secure only one dinner appointment with a ton of other invitations. We will probably make enough stops to secure enough food to last me the rest of my mission lol. That's weird to say.
Things are going well and we have started to exchange with a lot of missionaries when they have teaching appointments to give Elder V. can have teaching opportunites. I think that's the best way and we are trying hard to find in our own area.

Russell's Email 11-18-10

This week has been pretty good. It's been another trial and more hard work, but I'm just doing my best. That's all I can do, and so I'm working to "cheerfully do all things that lie within my power."
Really not very much has happened. We have been working really hard to try to find and to teach and to bring people to Christ. It's rough when the people aren't receptive, and there's not many people to begin with. One older inactive couple we talked to said, "How'd you find us?" People aren't always here to hear the gospel, but to hide from the Church. When I hear that it makes me sad and I think about President Eyring when he said, "When I get tired, or I think I deserve a break, I think, "Remember him." Jesus didn't take a break, even after he had suffered and then was crucified, he immediately went and set up the work in the spirit world. No breaks till the work is done...
I'm having a good time and enjoying serving. I really want to keep having fun and working hard, despite the success or lack thereof. I'm really trying to do everything that I can to finish strong.
We have zone conference tomorrow with Elder Bowen of the 70. I'm excited for the conference and I look forward to the opportunity to hear from a general authority.
With the last world wide leadership training, there was some changes made in the ward mission program. I guess I could use the balance of my mission to focus on getting the ward mission running up to speed with the new instruction from salt lake. I believe that would be good and help out a lot. Maybe that's my new goal lol
Thanks for ya'lls love and support. It has not been easy these last few weeks and I am just really doing my best but it's been hard. I don't know if I could manage this without your love, support, and prayers. Thanks so much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Russell's Email 11-11-10

Hola family!
this week has been good. We had a mission wide fast for baptisms and president asked us to all make a sacrifice for the blessings needed to get those baptisms.
The area is looking better. We are having some success, but working with members can be a slow process. They have lives, and often missionary work is pushed to the side with the other challenges that come daily. I have realized missionary opportunities are everywhere, we just have to be alert "because many people yearn for the truth." haha, if the missionaries give you a challenge, I challenge you to do it the next day.
We have found a few more people to teach and things are going well. I was having about 15-20 LTM's in my last area. This transfer we had 2, then four, and right now we have 3 with two planned for tonight. It's a change of pace in Mesquite, but the gospel goes forth anyway.
I am grateful for this experience. From it I have learned the necessity of support and love and prayer, all over again. What scares me is the stake president came to a lesson with us and he told us our missions were "boot camp" for the future. I will be happy being a young men's leader or in the scouting program, or even being a greeter (I actually really like doing that!)
Thanks for the love and support from home. It makes a great difference and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I love you lots and I hope you have great weeks!

Russell's Email 11-4-10

this week has been good, but still a very big learning experience. Trying to figure out my area has really ended up being a challenge. I feel like I am serving in the NV/AZ equivalent to Spencer or Altamont covering the area of Warren County (or at least that's how it feels.)
It's been a good week so far with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. I've never had a problem working hard, or smart, but there seems to need a new level of dedication and working smart that I haven't before known. It's been a challenge to visit everyone possible and to find people to teach.
Things in the area are going pretty well. We are working a lot with the members and I feel like we have a lot of work just hanging out a week in the future. By next week we could have several investigators who could quickly start progressing, but it's hard because it's just in the future. The other side of Sunday could yield a lot of fruit, but we have to be patient. Actually, I studied about patience this week, and guess what? I didn't like what I learned because now I have to be more and more patient. I guess that's a trial of mortality.
We have gotten a lot done, but we have really accomplished nothing more than a dent of a work in progress. That's difficult for me to go through, but it's working out so far. We also helped this family split wood a few days ago with a log splitter, that's about how I felt with the work we have done. We spent an hour and a half and barely dented the pile of wood, but I know that it's line upon line and lesson by lesson. I'm just doing my best and hoping that the Lord will make up where I lack. I just really hope that is his will.
I gotta go because I need to do some DL bussiness and write my letter to President. I love ya lots and thanks for all your support. It means the world to me. Love ya'll!

Russell's Email 10-28-10

Hello! How's it going? Wow, exciting stuff... Let me tell ya all about it!
I decided on Sunday that I wanted to stay in Warm Springs for my last transfer. About 10 minutes after I decided that, ring ring ring ring "Hello Elder Hitchcock, this is Elder F.! Just wanted to let ya know, YOU'RE HAVING A BOY!!!" So I'm training again, which also means I am leaving Warm Springs... I swallowed hard and said okay.
Then Monday night, ring ring ring "Elder Hitchcock, this is President. I wanted to thank you for your great loving service as a zone leader. You will always stick out in my mind for the loving leadership you have given in this mission. (I should have recognized he was building me up.) The Lord has assigned you to be a district leader in your new area. Will you do that?" "President, training, double transfer, and district leader? (sigh) I'll do whatever you need me to do."
Then comes to the trainers meeting before transfer conference. President comes in and starts talking to us and he told us, "Some of you will have very different assignments. (looking right at me) Some of you will be training spanish speaking missionaries in english areas. Actually, let me correct that, some of you will be training Tongan missionaries in English areas." (still looking right at me) So then I got my new companion. Elder V. fresh off the boat (or airplane) from Tonga. He knew Elder P. Sweet yeah? We are having fun, but it's a unique assignment because he is still learning english.
So, now I'm in Mesquite. Opening a new area that was split from an existing area. Sam, remember the hotel we stayed at in Mesquite on the way to Las Vegas for the basketball tournament? Well, I live really close to there. My area is just east of the first Mesquite exit and I cover all the way to the Utah border under St. George. There's nothing past Littlefield (the towns immediately after the Gorge). We cover a neighborhood in NV but then the rest of our area (Scenic, Littlefield, Jone's Flat, etc.) all in AZ.
There isn't a ton of work going on, and we spent almost all day yesterday getting the area organized and trying to get some direction. Our area is pretty spread out. Littlefield ward (littlefield, beaver dam, Jone's flat, desert springs) is about 10 miles away and Scenic (part of Mesquite 2) is about 5 miles away) so we will really have to work smart and work hard. I wanted to start working really smart before I started working super hard. so we got that under control and now we are moving forward.
Well, this first week is going really well and we are ready to work really hard. We will have a good time and be able to accomplish a lot. The info that I received was that my two wards were kind of neglected because the missionaries before were covering 4 wards, and so I think we can give them a lot of attention. So, sorry I don't have much to report on right now because I don't have much knowledge about what's going on.... lol
So my place I live in is pretty cool. We live in a members basement. We have a pool table, ping pong, darts, a movie theatre (I want to get an investigator to have a lesson with the members we live with and watch a movie down there.) It's nice, we have granite counter tops and it's just sweet. We have a Chevy Colorado pick up. It's a pretty good deal we have going on. I'm loving it.
So that's about all I got! I hope that things are going well at home. I love ya'll lots and I hope that ya'll have a great week!

Russell's Email 10-21-10

BAPTISMS!!!! We had two of them this past week for C. and A. It's kind of sad really, our mission is still really focused on getting LTM's (lessons taught to investigators with members present) and sometimes I get sad that we won't have as many LTM's anymore because of a baptism. lol
This week is also going really well. I had a really powerful experience in Sacrament meeting this week. As I thought about my mission during the sacrament, I thought, "Have I really changed that much?" I recall President Christensen telling me sometimes the spirit holds back our vision of progress to keep us humble. At the moment that question went through my mind, a lot of my previous mistakes and transgressions flashed through my mind. "I could never do that again." I thought in my mind. It was a great strength to me. Then we had the speakers. Before the meeting started, there was a girl sitting on the stand who was wearing a hat. Like a fitted baseball hat but one of those "cute" girl dress caps. I leaned over to Elder B., "Does that girl know she's wearing a hat on the stand in sacrament meeting?" "That's screaming, "Hey I need to be taken off because I'm in church!" Elder B. replied. Well, then they announced the program and I realized why she was wearing a hat. K. was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer 4 months ago and is going through chemo right now. She was wearing a wig and the hat to cover it. (Um, yep! I felt like a jerk) well, she started her talk off with a story about a guy who fell from a cliff and he caught hold of a branch. "Is there anyone there?! Help me!!!" He cried. "Let go of the branch and I'll catch you." He heard God say. "Um, is there anyone else?" everyone chuckled and then she talked about faith. She told us how her faith was tried when they told her she had cancer. She didn't know what that meant, only that she could die. She cried, "Why me? I'm 15. I go to church, I read my scriptures, I say my prayers. Why me?" but through the atonement, blessings, prayer, scriptures, and church attendance she has been able to strengthen her faith. I was blown away by this talk and her absolute faith. I thought, "If she can go through that, I can take on my challenges."
Then her mom got up. Stinkin' rip my heart out why don't you. She talked about how 13 years ago they lost K.'s little sister who was only 6 months old. Then when they told K. she had cancer she dropped to her knees and just cried. "Please Lord, you can't another one of my girls." I wanted to cry so bad! I thought, what else could happen to this family. As the talk went on, I realized how much the atonement is there to help and support us. I had a great experience and my faith was really strengthened by their talks.
I think those two events really were the highlight of my week. We also have had some really great lessons with some of our investigators. Everyone that we are teaching is doing really well and has such a strong desire to have the gospel, but I believe each person is experiencing opposition from someone in their family which is holding back at least some of their progress. I would be very thankful for some prayers in behalf as they want the gospel but are having a hard time.
It's just been a great week filled with teaching opportunities and great experiences. I love ya'll tons and I'm thankful for all that ya'll do for me. Love ya!!!!