Mi Familia!

Hola!

How is everyone doing? I was super excited to see everyone’s letter and get my package this week. Seriously it feels like a mini Christmas every time you get a dear elder or package. It’s such a relief. I really can’t believe its been a week already though. It seems like its only been like a day or so? Haha. After you guys dropped me off, I got taken by whats called a host and he showed me my dorm and everything. He showed me the classroom where I will basically spend 6 weeks of my life and that’s it!

My first companions name is Elder Rathmell. He is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He went to about two years of college at Metro State and then transferred to the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. His conversion story is pretty cool. He grew up with 8 of his best friends all being Mormon. He occasionally went to mutual activities and did stuff with his buddies in the church. He said he always felt a super good feeling when he was with his Mormon friends. So, when all of his friends went on missions, he went to college. He knew there was something vastly different in his life when he wasn’t with any LDS people in his life. He was missing the Spirit. He took the discussions, got baptized, waited a year and left on his mission! All of his friends are basically getting back like right now so he’s a little bummed about that.

One of the coolest things of the week was on the second day with our Branch President. He is nick named Brother Holland because he literally speaks exactly like him and quotes him ALL THE TIME. He is an inspired man. You can instantly feel the Spirit when he comes into the room. He has a pretty cool story. He worked on wall street for a business and now he owns businesses downtown. He didn’t go into specifics but he is super wealthy. He reminds me of Dads friend Kelly. His personality is magnetic and he really has a larger than life personality.

An average day at the MTC basically goes as such. You wake up at 6:30 AM on the dot, I hop out of my top bunk and take a shower. Get ready. Eat breakfast at 7:20 am and then we are in class by 8:00. We have language study or personal study until lunch, and then have language or personal study again until about 3 or so then gym, get ready for dinner (shower again) and eat by 4:50. The rest of the night really depends. A lot of nights we have been teaching a fake investigator named Jared. He is a pretty tough investigator on purpose and tries to make us speak some pretty hard concepts on purpose. Those lessons usually last about 30 minutes. We were doing those by day 2. It’s crazy how fast you learn a language in the MTC. The gift of tongues is absolutely real. Their is no doubt in my mind it is.

A kind of cool experience we had this week was when we were teaching Jared again. My companion and I kind of got ourselves in a tight spot. We were teaching the plan of salvation, our second lesson ever. That was mistake number 1. Trying to explain it was way difficult. We sat their half the time basically searching our pamphlets frantically trying to find the correct phrase. Nearing the end of the lesson, we were out of ideas. He asked the toughest questions ever. Finally, I just started bearing testimony. I somehow got the plan across in my testimony that I knew we could live with Heavenly Father again and that we can have eternal salvation. I really don’t remember what I even said. It felt like the Spirit just literally took over the lesson. I was so excited after!

A little more about just the day to day. My teachers name is Hermana Bennett. She is super cool and pretty easy to understand. She almost never speaks English to us. My district is soooo cool. We are an odd bunch. Two kids in our district are going into BUDS after the mission which is navy seal boot camp. They are very big and very strong. Their names are Elder Buzan and Elder Moser. Another kid in the group is a way good volleyball player playing for BYU next year, also a BYU football player. I’m the tallest in the group still. The closest to me is the volleyball player and he’s probably around 6’3.

Another way awesome experience was singing in the choir with my district. We sang with a band called the Nashville Tribute Band. They are an all Mormon band that actually sings really good music. A super weird change of pace for the MTC having a rock band performing. The Spirit was so strong in that meeting though. Its crazy how fast the Spirit can come when music is playing.

Ok, Now for my favorite experience of the whole entire week. On Sundays, we have a Mormon movie night and there are a ton of choices on what to watch. Our district chose to watch a movie called “The Character Of Christ” By Elder Bednar. He gave it about two years ago in the MTC on Christmas. I don’t know if the video is available to the public though. This talk changed my life. Seriously, if you can find it, watch it. Its so powerful. I don’t think I can put my thoughts on the talk into words, but Elder Bednar did an absolutely fantastic job.

I love all of you. Thank you all for being such great examples in my life and never giving up on me. I owe all of you a lot. I will be thinking about you all!

Love,

Elder Russell

PS I miss cooper a lot as well. Give him a treat for me and a hug 🙂

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