Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 27 Letter

 
December 27, 2011

Ahoy, ahoy!

It’s the weekly review.  How’s it going?  I saw the pics you guys sent in the e-mail from Christmas.  It looks like you guys had a blast?  Molly’s hair is so long!  And Anna, where’s your braces?! Ha ha, you look sharp.  Glad to hear your birthday was a blast Lauren.  Pizza Factory is good cookin’!  Speaking of pizza…. Thanks for the pizza.  It’s a hot commodity round these parts.  We have pizza night every Friday but sometimes I just got to have some Sleazer’s pizza so thank you. 

Thanks for the presents!  I loved the Lego missionary and the journal and stuff.  But thank you guys for your letters and your testimonies and for the letters in the journal.  For quite some time I felt really sad like I have to have a constant need for reassurance that I can do this. I felt this Christmas from the talks given and especially your testimonies that like really, it’s all good, like I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to get it but now I do.  I’ve realized that it’s all going to be okay.  If I just do what I’m supposed to do then I won’t have to worry.  This sudden blessing of self confidence doesn’t mean I don’t want letters of encouragement (please, I love it), but that Christmas night as I read your letters and testimonies and personal stories under my blankets with a flashlight (cause it was lights out) I just got such a warm and sudden feeling that yeah, this mission is going to be hard, and there are going to be times that I worry and I’m scared but those times will be trumped by the good times.  I feel like I can do anything that is required of me now.  I feel excited, ready to go, and extremely blessed.  Thank you so much you guys.  I love you.  I am so grateful for you guys in my life, thank you.  I know this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for all your prayers and the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father.  I’m so grateful for Him and his son Jesus Christ.  I’m so thankful that he gave me such a wonderful family and this amazing gospel!  Not a prayer goes by where I don’t mention those things.  Thank you.

Well, as I said in the e-mail, I’m hosting this week so that should be an adventure in and of itself.  Word is we get our travel plans this week so I’ll keep you posted on that…exciting!  I’m getting along great with everyone but, boy, I’m so ready to get out of the MTC.  I’ll miss all the fun here and its perks like free food, hot showers and mail all the time but I am stoked for Argentina!  Even though I have (decent at best) cave man Spanish I have the first vision down in Spanish so I’ve got that going for me…..which is nice.  We finished up our last Spanish subject:  past subjunctives.  Apparently they don’t exist in English and all the teachers say you just have to pick it up while you are down there (along with the entire language) but everything else is great! 

Thanks for the advice in getting along with Elder --------.  It really worked.  He’s still a baby at times but I have just learned to say “whatever” and be the best I can with that guy.  Also, I heard you said someone named Taylor Fletcher wanted to add me on Facebook.  He is one of the MTC teachers so it’s all good to add him as a friend.  I told him to add me, our whole district told him to add them all on Facebook. 
By the way, Elder Beal and Elder Zulauf say, “Thanks for the ties Sister Elder Allphin’s mom”.  You know how five year old boys have to say thanks. Ha-ha.  Really, they loved them. Paisley ties are a hot commodity here. 
  
Well, I guess I better wind up this letter.  I love you all so much.  Thanks for everything.  Thanks for being happy this Christmas.  I was too.  It was a Christmas I’ll never forget.  I’m so grateful for your kind, caring, heaven-sent words.  You guys are, in the words of Bill and Ted, “most excellent!”  I love you guys so much and I hope all is well and you have a Happy New Year.  It will be 2012!  I’ll be home in 2013.  Thank about that!  Pretty cool, huh?  I love you!  I’m so thankful for all of you.  The Church is true.  It’s all good.

Con amor,

Russ

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27 Email

December 27, 2011

Hey guys! It’s the second email of the week!

How's it going? Glad to hear Christmas and all went swimmingly. As you know, my Christmas went well too. After I wrote you guys that e-mail we went and ate a sack- dinner. We then went to what I thought was going to be "Sissel: Live and Sisseling at the MTC". Alas, to my sorrow, it was a pre-recorded show that we just watched in the gym. After I stopped tearing down the Christmas decorations in the pure anger of not seeing Sissel, throwing Christmas trees in the audience, and screaming "I hate Christmas!" I finally settled down and enjoyed the show. It really was very nice.

After that, Stephen B. Allen, the director of the missionary department, gave a really, really, really great talk that made me think. His theme was, "missions are hard but they are worth it".  It was really funny and it was very nice. After his talk we watched a movie Bro. Allen actually produced. It's a little number we all know, "Mr. Kruger’s Christmas”.  I'm pretty sure he played it just so I could cry during the part when Mr. Kruger talks to Jesus (just like I've done at that scene ever since I was 6).  Alas, we didn’t get to see any of the bloopers and outtakes from that movie.

It was a very nice Christmas. Thank you for those sweet testimonies you guys sent me, they really touched my heart and bore a strong spirit. I will talk about those and more about my Christmas in the letter I'll write after this. In other news, I'm moving on up. Tomorrow I'm hosting! You know, bringing in the young ‘uns. It'll be great!  My host wasn’t that great so I want to make sure these new elders get the good treatment. I'll try not to scare them by telling them that at the MTC you have to dance the Charleston for your food.

Thanks for the packages and letters this Christmas and a special shout out to goes to Austin and Ethan, Brian and Carly, Mark and Edna (and their fam) and Zack Hulsey. Thanks for the letters. Seriously, you guys are the best! Thank you, thank you!

It's been a great week! I've been getting along really well with my companions and we just learned the last thing we need for our MTC Spanish stuff:  Past subjunctives. I can't begin to tell you how insane those are but I'm not worried about it. I'm just pumped to get to Argentina! We had a sub from Salta who was telling us everything about it and it's pretty much the best place in the world.

Thanks familia for the pizza and the presents and all. I loved the Lego missionary, it's the best. Sorry if I just talked about Christmas in this letter, it was really all we did this week but boy was it a good week. I love you guys. Thanks so much for everything, really: Your letters, testimonies and everything just makes my day. I'm running out of time on the computer so I’ll go write you guys a letter. The church is true, I love you guys. It's all good

Con amor,

Russ

Nice tuke, Russ

December 20th letter that came late

 December 20, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

Christmas time is here and I am excited!  How are you guys?  What Christmas stuff have you been doing?  That’s cool you guys went to the Nutcracker and had the big gingerbread house party.  We’ve been getting into the spirit too.  We’re going to have a big district sleepover on Christmas Eve and have a white elephant exchange and read the Christmas Story.  I told you some of the Christmas plans in the e-mail but yeah, I’m really excited for it, and it’s gonna be nuts. 

We got a new district which means we got new roommates but they are cool.  One is named Elder Morrow and he is from Farmington, New Mexico and he says he knows Steve and Chris and all those guys.  He also says his mom went to Timpview and lived by where we used to live.  His mom’s last name is Magelby so maybe you might know her, mom.

As for choir, I try to go as much as I can but sometimes schedules get conflicted but it’s still cool when I get the chance to go.  This week has been pretty much the same: 16 hour-days, $6 on our cards a week—something doesn’t seem right about that.  But everything is going well.  I’m happy to be here and I’m getting pumped for Argentina. 

Sorry to hear about lil’ Kim Jong-Il.  Hopefully, Senor Chang will take his place.  I’m wearing Paris Hilton sunglasses in respect, just like you are doing dad.  Ha-ha. 
That’s crazy to her that shy-guy Archuleta is going on a mish.  Hopefully we’ll go to the same area and bring some small town justice to Salta with our pacifist ways of song and dance.  Sounds like a good movie plot line.  I can see it now: Hallmark presents “The Year When Salta Sang”… I hear Kathy Bates is gonna be cast as the villain…. 
 
Sorry if I forget things that you guys ask me to write about (like questions or whatever).  Sorry if I do that.

Well, I best go record a video clip for you guys.  It has my testimony on it and everything.  I hope it will play once it gets to you  (It’ll be on the SD card I am sending home today). 

Chillin'
I just want you to know that I love you sooooo much and I hope you have a merry little Christmas.  I miss you guys but I know we’ll all be happy this Christmas because we will remember the true meaning of this season.  Watch Elf, Christmas Vacation (and sing the theme song) Christmas Story and all those movies for me.  I love you all so much. Merry Christmas.  Happy Birthday Lauren and have a Happy New Year.  God bless you all, you’re the greatest family on earth.  Thank you!  I love you!

Con amor,
Russ

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bonus Christmas-Day Letter

 Ahoy and a most holly St. Swithin’s day to all!

So, President Brown the MTC president (Leslie Nielson's twin) surprised us that we could email on Christmas day so sorry if this is unexpected, I didn’t know about it either ha-ha but I’ll tell you the Christmas events that have transpired.

We'll anyway, we had a good Christmas Eve.  We watched that old version of A Christmas Carol with that greasy Burger King-looking Ghost of Christmas Present which, when he lifted up his robe to show Ebenezer the two poor kids that were hidden underneath, did so in the most hilarious way possible by yelling "LOOK UNDER MY ROBE!"  Our whole district was about to pee our pants when that scene occurred. I hope you'll guys know the Christmas Carol I am talking about. It's always fun to watch movies and stuff with the whole MTC because it's exactly like in the movies when prisoners watch a show:  Every kiss, every heroic moment, every cool scene is always followed by whistling/ooo-la la’s/clapping/etc. I shudder to think what will happen when we watch a movie with Rita Heyworth in it.

On that same night we had a white elephant gift exchange and then we all took our mattresses to one room and had a giant sleepover in there.  We read Luke chapter 2, and 3rd Nephi 11. It was really nice. Then I proceeded to sing all the guys a lullaby, except I just sang "Arms Wide Open" by (my very favorite band Creed) with a very unintelligible very Creed-sounding gusto. The whole room started singing and we laughed and laughed. I hate Creed with a passion but we truly did that song justice.

I opened my presents this morning (THANK YOU-THANK YOU!) along with everybody else, it was really nice and fun. We then went to a huge sacrament meeting and Elder Bednar was there. He gave a great talk about how to obtain the characteristics of Christ. Also, at the very end of his talk, he promised us that we wouldn’t leave the Church--What an amazing blessing, right? It was so cool! After that we had an okay lunch (I was filled up with candy) and that leads us up to here.

This past week has been amazing. I got my gift and I’m sure you guys got it too: To be happy. I have had a few bad days here (the mission will have a few bad days too, I’m sure) but they pale in comparison to the good ones. I am so excited to be here and to be going out to Argentina in just a little bit. What a blessing this gospel is. I know prayer works and, with Heavenly Father, nothing is impossible. I know that my Savior lives and he loves all of us. I'm so thankful for everything in my life: My amazing family and friends, the opportunity to be here, and for the knowledge we have of the Gospel.

I don't know a ton of Spanish but I’m ready to get out there and try my best. I love you guys so much. Thanks for everything—thanks for your amazing examples and for your prayers. I'll email and write you again on Tuesday. I'm going to finish this email up and read the letters you guys put in my Christmas package I know this is a good thing, to be here. I am thankful for it all. I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, I know I did. Thank you for everything. Merry Christmas. I Love You. It's all good! :)

Con Amor,

Russ

Friday, December 23, 2011

MTC Week 6 Christmas message

Dear Everybody:

Well, well, well it looks like its Christmas time once again. The time of year when we can quote Elf and wonder how the heck did the Who’s down in Who-ville get those ridiculous presents. Like really, one of the tringrinklets, or whatever they’re called, is like the size of a small bus, it’s ridiculous. But, anyway, I digress. I love Christmas. I love this wonderful time of year where you can really appreciate what we have in our lives, our good health, our families and especially our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As I read and pray and make lessons every day it seems like just a lot of work but then once you look at why you are doing the work, it really hits you. I’m doing this work to invite others to Christ. What a cool thing right? I came on a mission with a goal in mind to share and give others the happiness I have felt in my life, the happiness that I have a loving family, amazing friends, and just a great life. All this would not be possible without the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How great would it be to share that happiness with others, I can’t wait to be doing that.

This Christmas I’m so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Yo se que la religion de
Jesuchristo de los Santos de los ultimos dias es el solo iglesia verdad en in tierra. Yo se
que Jose Smith fue un profeta verdad. Yo se que Thomas S. Monson es nuestra profeta
hoy. Yo se que familias son eternal. Y yo se que vive mi Senor. Estoy Argadacido a ser
en un mission. Estoy mucho aramado. Estoy Agradacito per todo las personas este ayudarme a ser aqui. Gracias, muchas gracias. En el nombre de Jesuschristo, Amen.

Thanks everybody for praying and supporting me. I love you all so much. I am so thankful for each one of you. Always remember what Christmas is about.

“Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan’s power when we have gone astray, oh tidings of comfort and joy.”

I can’t wait to shares these tidings of comfort and joy that I’ve felt in my life with the people of Argentina. What an amazing opportunity. May you all have a Merry Christmas.

I love you all.

Con todo mi amor,

Elder Allphin

“a es todo bien”
What else was there to do?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MTC Week 6


December 20, 2011

Ahoy hoy!

How's it going? It's soooooo great to hear from all of you! Thanks so much for all the letters, keep writing!

Still great here! This week cause it's Christmas we don’t have the temple this afternoon and it's closed the rest of the time I’m here so, no more temple :( but it's all good so I have a lot of time to write and such.

Things are going pretty good here. The Spanish is coming along and things with our new comp are getting easier. Thanks for your guy's prayers and everything, they really help, I’m so grateful for them.

Well, as you know it is Christmas and, from what I heard, this is what it's going to be like: We are going to have one giant MTC sacrament meeting with a General authority (word on the street says it'll be Holland but I think it's going to be Justin Bieber). Then we get to watch movies and stuff all day.  Rumor has it that we will have a special guest coming to the MTC to sing for us (Bieber?)  That’s what I heard is going to happen.

IDK if I already told you guys (and you could double check with the MTC or whatever) but I think they stop getting packages at here on the 23rd.  I just thought I’d tell you, seeing as you guys were going to send another package. And yeah, it is depressing news but we can't call home on Christmas.  But yeah, it's all good. I’ll just call you guys when I’m at the airport.

Let’s see what else happened this week. I sent you a letter, mom, on Saturday. I hope it got there! The meeting with the consulate went well.  It wasn’t anything hard, we just had to get our fingerprints and sign a paper in front of a guy from Argentinean embassy so it was no sweat.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Craig for the money.  That was so great. It is much appreciated.

Sorry if all my letters bounce from one thing to another. I'm trying to think of all the things we did this week but really there’s nothing new, just Spanish, teaching, rinse and repeat. So if you ever have any questions about the MTC or whatever, please tell me.

So I’m going to write all you guys a letter today. You can open it up on Christmas if you want or whenever. I'm also sending my SD card home with some pictures and a video of me on it for you guys. I'll send my weekly letter home but just get ready for a lot of letters.

I love you guys so much and I really do miss all of you but I know it's all good. I've really been loving the 12-days of Christmas packages, especially the "it's all good" magnet because really, it's so true.

I know this is going to be quite the change being away this Christmas but we'll all be alright. We'll be happy and positive 'cause really it's all good. I love you guys so much and I’m so thankful this time of year and for our Savior Jesus Christ. I'm so happy to be where I am in life. I’m so thankful for you guys. I hope you all have a holly and most jolly Christmas. I know I will so get ready for some letters this week and remember: It's all good. I love you!

Con Amor,

Russ

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MTC Week 5 Second Letter

December 13, 2011

Dear Familia:

How’s it going?  How are things?  How are you guys?  I’m doing pretty good myself.  Thanks for all the packages and letters; that was really amazing of you.  I love getting mail and yes, I got the tree and it is currently hanging up by my desk.  It is such a cool thing, I really love it.

The language is going pretty good; a lot of stupid conjugations but I’m not stressing about it.  The teaching is also going well; I’m really becoming not afraid to sound stupid.  I know my Spanish sounds like caveman Spanish “you….to eat….now?  Something like that but it’s coming along.  The teachers are still cool.  We’ve got Hermano ---------- and Hermano ---------- and of course my favorite teacher Hermana --------.  She kind of reminds me of Sammi Reeves. Hermana -------- is super nice and patient. 

In the MTC we make up a lot of stuff to keep ourselves sane.  One thing we made up is called the MTC prom.  We don’t know how we will pull it off (I’ll mostly likely have to ask Joe Hatch as my date) but, in my mind, it would go off pretty good.  I would also ask Hermana ------- to it.  But anyway, it’s going pretty good here. Me and Elder Young do a lot of “ab” workout in gym time.  It’s really fun!  On a package note real quick, they said the MTC stops taking packages on the 23rd for Christmas  so…yeah, they just said to tell you that. 

We got a new councilor in the branch.  His name is Brother Menlove and he reminds me a lot of Grandpa Mick ‘cause he is also from Spanish Fork and he is just like him.  His wife reminds me a lot of Norma.  She is a kindergarten teacher and she looks like Carol Burnett.  The Menloves are sooooo nice! 

Could you guys give a shout out from me to Brother Rapier for his letter?  It was so nice and comforting.  He is such a cool guy!

I forgot to say last week but yeah I did see that First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  It was so nice.  I about teared up a storm during Silent Night, it was so pretty.  I’m doing pretty good here.  I told you guys in the e-mail that we have a new companion.  Elder ----….you know about him.  This week has been pretty hard with him on board.  It’s a whole new system with him ‘cause he is really annoying at times.  So please pray for me that I’ll be patient, humble, and happy and overall try to be like Jesus. 

I also said that this Christmas I would like everyone to be merry and happy, including me.  I’ll pray for you guys if you pray for me.  I know it will all turn out good.  I know Heavenly Father answers prayers like when you prayed, Mom, and then you talked to Sister Littlefield and your prayer was answered that I was okay (which I am).  You’re amazing mom.  I love you with all my heart.  You are the best.  Never forget I love you and that it’s all good.   I guess we all need to remember that.  Even though we will have some rough times and it seems like things won’t get better, they will (John 14:18).  I really have got to remember that. 

Well, I best start wrapping up this letter.  I think this letter will come a day later than it usually does so sorry if there was a wait.  Well, the only request I have is so send me some of those tasty chocolate balls made of Symphony bars that we make every Christmas and to keep praying for me.  I love you guys so much and hope all is well.  Keep writing me!  I love you all!  ‘S’all good!”  Keep fighting the good fight!

Con amor,

Russ

P.S.  Thanks for the letters Grandma!  I love you

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MTC Week 5

December 13, 2011

Hey Hey Hey,

How’s it going?!?!? How is everyone?  Man, oh, man it’s so good to hear from you guys!  I will say it a million times but I LOVE MAIL , ha-ha!!!  I’m writing on a keyboard that has all of its characters scratched off so sorry if this email may have letters where they are not supposed to be.
Anyway, I’m doing pretty good.  Elder ---------- (Rachael) decided to head home so guess who got stuck with his equally as annoying companion....yeah, me and elder Zulauf.  I think getting Elder ------ is like God saying to me and Zulauf,  "You guys have been getting along so great, how ‘bout we give you this really annoying kid to drive you guys crazy”....in a sense.  So please, PLEASE pray for me that I won’t punch this kid.  Other than that, this week has been okay. It was kind of dull and I wasn’t really all that excited ‘cause now we've got Elder ------.  But yeah,  it was okay, nothing really new.
Thank you for all the mail and packages and mail! It was great! And Mom, I was so glad that Sis. Littlefield talked to you.  She is cool! I just want you to know that I am happy and that I am okay.  Yeah, there are some days that I just want to crawl back into bed because it's so hard but the moments where I really am happy and excited are the best.  I will talk more about this in my letter home (along with the answers to questions from your emails). 
This Christmas I just want everyone in the family to be happy.  As I have been thinking about why I decided to serve a mission the thought always comes back to me, I want others to have the same happiness I have felt in my life—the happiness that Families are forever, the happiness that we can have peace in this life, and the happiness that we have a Savior who loves us and wants the best for us and will never let us down. I just want people to be happy and that includes you guys. So this Christmas I just want for us to all be happy.
I know it's hard being away from each other for Christmas but as we really reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, knowing that we are all happy is just about the greatest gift ever. Would that be okay? I know it's a hard thing to be happy sometimes. This last week here it’s been pretty tough for me to be optimistic but I know that everything will get better soon and that if we both pray for each other to be happy then we will be. It's tough but really, just keep praying for me to be happy and I’ll do the same for you.
 I really love you guys.  I really do miss you guys but I’m really grateful to be where I am and I’m really grateful this mission is blessing you guys.
Well it's about time I log off because my time is running out but now I will go write you guys a letter.  Just know I love you guys so much and that it's all good and I'm having a blast here.  It's tough but do-able. I love you guys!  It's all good
 Con amor,
 Russ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Russ at the Provo Temple

Russ and his district

Frat Party?


Elders Allphin and Zulauf


Week 4 Second Letter

Hola Familia!
How’s it going?  I just finished writing my e-mail (30 minutes is never enough) and I just wanted to answer some of your question and tell you about some things.  The showers are good, but the bathrooms here are nuts! The showers are warm but the bathroom floors are always gross, so you HAVE to wear shower sandals. 
I’m pretty good with supplies.  I could use some more notebooks (like the spiral bound ones) and some more pens and always some more treats.  There are ten guys in my district.  They are way cool and way fun guys except Elder __ and Elder ___ because they are just so annoying sometimes.  But I am learning to tune them out. 
Five guys in our district are going to Salta (including Elder Zulauf). 

This Thursday and next Tuesday (the 8th and the 13th) all the Argentina-bound missionaries have to meet with the Argentina consul for our visas.  I don’t know what will happen but yeah, it sound like…fun?  We have to meet with them a week from today which my p-day (darn it).  So if you guys get a late e-mail from me that day you will know why. 

Yes, I am writing in my journal—everyday!  I think I might send my MTC journal home before I go to Argentina and you guys could just send me a fresh new journal before I leave.  Is that a good idea? 
Laundry is working out fine.  I love it!  It’s one of my favorite p-day activities.  And as far as Christmas stuff, there is really no one in the district who is in need.  They all have good family support.  But as for Christmas ideas, maybe some of the Christmas Cadbury eggs would be nice or the candy you guys put in the stockings would be nice as well.  

Have I ever told you guys how much I just love you?  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the support. I love, love, love the letters you guys send to me.  Every time I read them I feel like you are really there.  Thanks so much for the letters mom and dad.  Your words always make me so happy and comforted.  Thank you for all the kind words.  Please, please keep writing.  You guys really make me feel like I’m the luckiest son on earth (which I am.)  Thanks for the letters Anna and Lauren!  It’s so good to hear from you.  I love you two so much!  Carly!!! I could read the Spanish part of your letter!  It was so cool.  Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement.  You are truly the best.  I love you!  And Grandma really and truly thanks for the every day letters.  There is nothing better than to kick back at the end of a long day and read letters.  I love your letters.  I love you so much.  I love all you guys so much and miss you terribly.  But, it’s all good.  Like it’s already been a month!  Just imagine how fast 2 years will be. 
I’m so thankful for you and your examples, sacrifices, prayers, fasts and nice words.  Remember to keep praying for me and know that I pray for you everyday, several times a day.  I love you Mom, Dad, Anna, Lauren, Carly, Brian, Molly, Grandma Molly, Papa Wes…. Especially you, Mom.  You guys are simply amazing.
I hope all is well.  I know the power of prayer is real.  Let everyone who fasted for me know that I love them and I’m so thankful for them.  Keep writing!  I’m doing better each day!  I love you all.  It’s all good.  This is a good thing. 
Con Amor,

Russ
P.S.  If you guys (mom) had any questions I didn’t answer I’m sorry.  I think I got them all, but ask again if I didn’t.  I would be happy to answer them.

P.P.S.  I really do love letters!  They are just the best!  Keep writing!  I love you. 


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MTC Week 4

A hoy-hoy Familia!

How’s it going? This week is a little different for writing email. I usually write my email from the writing lab near my classroom but today I’m writing this from the laundry room underneath a very loud vent--so it’s interesting ha-ha.

How are you guys?  It’s so good to hear from you. I just have to say how much I appreciated your fasting for me. Really. This week I just got so much courage and strength to do all that was asked of me. I feel like I’m not embarrassed to speak Spanish. I know my Spanish probably sounds like a "retarded German shepherd" but it’s progress ha-ha. I just feel so much better, like a weight has been lifted. I know its hard work but I know that your prayers are really helping me and lifting me up. Thank you so much for all who fasted for me. You guys are just more than amazing!

This last week was pretty eventful. Like I said, I got a huge confidence boost thanks to you guys and this week we did a lot of teaching. Me and Elder Zulauf were teaching for TRC were you teach a lesson to a volunteer who is usually a member. We didn’t have a lot of volunteers come so we taught our teacher Hermano Fry. We taught him our lesson and I just got the prompting to say to him (in Spanish) if everything was okay and if he needed anything. Turns out he did.  He asked us to pray for him and his soon-to-be wife. He looked really scared and kind of dumbfounded.  I didn’t know if it was pre-marriage jitters or what but at the end of our lesson we kneeled down and prayed. I said in the prayer (again this is all in Spanish) that Hermano Fry and his fiancĂ©e would be blessed with strength and that all would be ok. He started lightly tearing up during the prayer and at the end he thanked us. I think that prayer helped him a lot. I think that was my first step of really helping people on my mission.

We fasted on Fast Sunday but not for just 2 meals, no.  That’s not how our district rolls. We did a 24-HOUR fast—AHHHHHGJHYTJK!!!!.
It was actually pretty easy because I was really fasting for a purpose so it was a cool experience.

I saw Ms. Jones last Tuesday! It was so good to see her.  I was tearing up ‘cause it was so good to see her. I also caught up with the Littlefield’s and they say “hello” and they took a picture of me and Elder Zulauf. I also saw Joe Hatch! He still (literally) has pep in his step. I caught up with him and he's doing good. We have gym at the same time so I see him then.

All in all, it was a great week. I’m so thankful for you guys and your prayers and fasts on my behalf. I could really feel the blessings of those fasts and prayers. I love you guys so much!!!! You mean the world to me! I will write my more detailed letter home (with a few pictures) in just a minute and include answers to the questions you guys (mom) sent me but I’ll tell you guys some stuff now.

Today I have to get my haircut. Yeah, they got after me and Elder Zulauf and most of our district so I’m crossing my fingers for no bowl cuts or buzzes. But just in case they do, and I ask for hair gel, don't be surprised. I'm gonna get some dry cleaning done and that’s just about it.

I like that 12 days of Christmas idea, it's sounds sweet! I’m down for it! I’m running low on snacks. Gushers, jolly ranchers, etc. so if you could send some more snacks that'll be swell.

You guys are heroes for sending that Quiznos sandwich! I felt kinda dumb asking for it (like it would be my Beto's) but it hit the spot! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Well, it's about time I wrap this up. Thank you, thank you guys again! I love you guys so much! Keep praying for me and putting my name in the temple. I love you guys and I miss you. But it's all good. I'm happy and I’m getting excited to go to Argentina. You guys are amazing. I love you. It's all good :)

Con Amor,

Russ

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

MTC Week 3


A hoy-hoy, familia:

Wazzup? Everything is still great here at the MTC. The food is really good (‘cept the spaghetti cause the noodles look like tapeworms...sorry I had to say that mom) but everything else is great. The Spanish is coming along slowly but surely--I hate conjugating verbs so much!!! But hopefully I’ll get it. They started us with investigators and it's pretty stressful ‘cause the language is hard to say sometimes and all the teachers have a different way of teaching and they say to teach their way. But other than the language and learning how to teach, those are really the only stressful parts.

I told you guys I joined the choir and nobody else in the district, except one other elder, wanted to do choir. So me and that Elder (Elder Leechman) went early to go sit in the choir seats to sing at the devotional. Turns out there were no choir seats left so we decided to sit a few seats from the front row. And, lo and behold, Elder Christofferson came to speak to us at that devotional. The coincidences were uncanny.  He was raised in PG and went to Salta on his mission and his main message was, no joke, word for word:  "It's all good"....Yeah, it was pretty much amazing. 

On another apostle note, Elder Nelson came and spoke to us for Thanksgiving and that was cool. Oh, Thanksgiving was really great. We did a little service project were we made first-aid kits and then we had our sack lunches and then we got to watch the movie “17 Miracles” and for a special treat they gave everyone.....popcorn....grrrr!  But other than that, I loved Thanksgiving.  

My companion is named Elder Tyler Zulauf. He is from Norco, California and he loves basketball and sports which is great ‘cause I hate sports. But really we do get along just great. His personality reminds me of Doug. Like, he’s  just a cool, funny guy and we get along great. I told you before his dad died just a little bit before his mission which is really sad but he knows that he'll see his dad again and he is really an optimistic guy.  For all I know he is doing ok. I forgot to tell you this but the second day at the MTC Elder Zulauf was really sick from nerves and stress and stuff (who wasn’t sick, really) and President Claybaugh asked me to give Elder Zulauf a blessing. I was really nervous ‘cause I’ve never given a real blessing before but I gave him a blessing that he'd get better and he did. Kind of amazing how great the priesthood is!

I got the Cokes and the cinnamon rolls and the cookies, gracias! Everybody in the district LOVED them!  Well, that’s just about all this week’s events. Just super busy and, at times, hair-pulling stressful. But it feels good to be here. I still miss you guys so much. They played  “As I Have Loved You” for one of the devotionals and I just about died. But you know, 2 years will go by just like that!

I love you guys so much.  Thank you for all the letters and packages and your prayers. Keep praying for me ‘cause this week is gonna be a hard teaching week! I will write you guys some letters today and send home some printed pictures so look forward to that. I love you guys so much and I’m so thankful for all of you in my life.

Si se Puede!
Con Amor,

Russ

Friday, November 25, 2011

MTC Week 2

 
November 22, 2011
Hola, Mama y Papa!
Como esta?

I’m doing great here.  It is week 2 and slowly the plot of Groundhog Day is becoming more and more applicable to me (ha-ha) but in a good way. It’s Thanksgiving this week (like I said in the e-mail) and there’s a lot of hullabaloo going on about it here at the MTC so we will see what happens.  I forgot to say in the e-mal but thank you for the package with the cookies and tasty treats.  An Elder (the one who I swear is autistic and is like the weird girl from "House Bunny") every night is always awkwardly shuffling his feet and building up the courage to ask me if he can have a cookie. I’m way nice to him but I think he thinks I will tear him apart if he wants a cookie.

Man, oh man, thanks for the letters and words or encouragement and comfort.  I looooove getting letters!  I have the district record of getting letters, it’s the best!  Keep ‘em coming.  We’ve had a few devotionals (one on Tuesday and on Sundays) but we haven’t had a speaker I’ve known yet.  One speaker whose name was President Harris (I can’t remember his first name, sorry) but he and his wife gave some of the best talks I’ve ever heard.  They talked about that “it’s all good” and his experience as a missionary.  I loved it. 

I joined the choir and for this devotional, lo and behold, we are singing…”Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.  Score!  That was so cool that the choir sang that song in the ward.  I really love the lyric, “Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I constrain to be.”    It is so true.  Even though we have trials, we have even more blessings.  All the lyrics are great in that song.  Mom, I am glad we share that.
But to answer the questions from your ‘Dear Elder’ letters (which I got right after I read your e-mail) I am sleeping well.  I have earplugs for Elder ---------’s (Rachel) insane snoring and I take a melatonin every night.  And I am having a bunch of weird dreams, they are really specific, like for instance I had a dream that I was at the MTC and were having a garage sale and Tim an Eric were there.  Oh, and on the plus side, I slept talked in Spanish, horrible sleep talk Spanish but that’s a good thing!  I don’t know how I remembered that but I did, ha-ha.  And my clothes are working out great.  I love ‘em!  And the schedule is crazy.  We have permanent classrooms and  nice, Greg Otterstrom kind of teachers but there’s sooo much Spanish all the time. It’s scary to teach lessons Spanish it because I sound like a combo of Peggy Hill and “The King’s Speech”  but it will work out.  When I’m done at the MTC I’ll send you the schedule to show you how crazy it is. 
I have seen a few kids I know but not a lot of people I know that I could say “Hey, remember me?”  Colby Nelson, one of my best friends in elementary school, is here and I say “hi” to him now and then but that’s about it.  As for things I need:  I would love some real, caffeinated, devils-nectar Coke!  And every now and then some treats like Reese’s or Sour Patch stuff but Doug and Jen sent me some snacks and also Brian and Carly sent me some snacks too.  Also Blaine and Alicia sent me a nice card and both Blaine and Brent sent me “Dear Elder” letters.  Could you tell them “thank you sooo much” for me?  Oh, and tell Brent that I remind myself a lot here at the MTC of the inspiring words he once told me: “Russ, just deal with it!”  I don’t know why Helen Keller gets all the fame for quotes but Brent doesn’t get any credit for that one.  Oh, well. Ha-ha. 

Again, I love you guy’s letters, I appreciate the talk ideas that, in the future, if I’m asked to speak on that again I’ll apply them.  Oh, and I got a letter from Grandma and Grandpa Allphin via Dear Elder.  Could you tell them “thanks so much and that I love them so much”?  I said in my e-mail I was going to try to write some other letters today but I don’t know if that is going to be possible.  I’m sorry.
Well, I think I should wrap up this letter.  I love you mom and dad.  I miss you so much and I know being apart is hard but it’s all good.  We are doing great things.  I can start to see, through the letters you guys send me, that the Lord has already granted and is starting to grant us blessings.  You guys are so amazing and I appreciate your prayers so much.  I can feel the peace from you guys prayers all the time.  Well padres, yo amores (I love you) and I hope all is well.  May you have a great Thanksgiving and a Happy 21st Anniversary.  I love you mom, I love you Dad. 

Con amor,
Russ
This was a hand written letter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

 
A hoy hoy, mi famila!

Como estan? It has been so great to hear from you guys this week. I love all your letters and words of encouragement! They are great you guys are amazing! Thanks for the letters every day grandma! I’m known in my district as "Allphin (pronounced All-feen) the letter machine" haha I love getting letters! So I was really paranoid the letter I sent to you guys last week didn’t make it to the house ‘cause it was so awkwardly bulgy but it sounds like you guys got it.... hopefully haha! Man, oh, man it's week 2! And boy this week has been...pretty much like the movie Groundhog Day but we're working harder. We are teaching a new investigator and it is HARD! Me and Elder Zulauf were tripping over words and it was so painful but we at least accomplished our purpose which is to help others come unto Christ. And we have to teach this investigator even more this week so keep praying for me! Have the spirits of the animal kingdom or what ever Natalie was talking about to watch over me and protect me.

Today I’ll try to write and send each of you guys a letter! So get ready for that sometime this week. But as far as the MTC goes there’s nothing really going on this week though, we still have the worst roommates of all time. The boy version of Rachael who is a die- hard Canadian who showers 4 times a week and will never shut up and always snores.  And the boy version of the weird girl from House Bunny who has all the weird ideas that everybody thinks is crazy plus he looks like an elf with a cold. I try to love them the best I can and I’ve never given them any crap so I’ve gained some tolerance towards them. But someone in my district, one of these days, is going to throw a chair at them—it’s only a matter of time.

It's Thanksgiving this week! So far the plan I heard for Thanksgiving is that we do some humanitarian project and have sack lunches and then have a special devotional with a special guest...my vote is that Lady Gaga is coming but we'll have to wait and see.  Oh, and also for a thanksgiving package, I’m pretty set as far as the food packages I got (thanks Cary, Brain, Molly, Doug, and Jen for the packages! They were awesome) but I would love a real caffeinated Coca Cola...yeah that’s right it's the devils nectar but I would love some if that’s cool!

I just realized that today we are going to the temple the day before your anniversary Mom and Dad! How cool is that? Really that is a cool temple (even though everyone that works there looks like they want to punch me in the face) I still like it and appreciate it. It's not the same going to the temple without you guys, though. I miss you guys so much! I’m so grateful for your guy’s example of being the greatest family on earth. And even though it's tough being away from home, I know it's a good thing to be out here and that you guys back home are being blessed so much. I'm doing fine! It’s hard work but I’m fine! And excited to learn! (Again I cannot emphasize how tough it is) but I can learn it! Keep praying for me that I’ll learn everything I need to know (I know you guys already do :)...I love you guys so much and I hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving! I know the Lord is looking after us. S'all good!

Con Amor,

Russ :)

P.S. Carly! Happy Birthday (on the 19th, haha) I love you so much!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Third Letter From the MTC

November 15, 2011
Hola Familia!

Como esta?  Estoy excellente!  (Just have Carly translate all the Spanish haha). Sorry I’m writing via handwritten letter.  The laundry here is nuts!  I swear there’s like 50 people in the laundry room and there are only 6 computers so it’s going to be impossible to send an e-mail at the momento.  But I’ll try my best to send an e-mail in the future.  The MTC has been great!  The food is good, the spirit feels good, the classes are great and the people are nice.  My companion is named Elder Tyler Zulauf and he is from Norco, Ca.  He graduated just a few months ago and sadly his Dad actually passed away a month ago, so you know he has incredible willpower and an incredible testimony to be here.  He is way cool, he is quiet and shy and he looks like James Franco and he loves sports.  We are opposites in that he is a big sports guy and I’m a big music guy but we get along just fine. 

Our district is awesome!  Our district leader is named Elder Bingham.  He reminds me a lot of Andy from The Office….exactly like Andy actually, but he’s a way cool guy.  I became friends with an Elder from the district named Elder Young.  His favorite band is Fictionist and we just talk music all the time.  My roommates (excluding Elder Zulauf) are Elder ----, and Elder -------.  Elder ----is a nerdy and smart guy that reminds me a lot of the leader of the ugly girl’s house in the movie “The House Bunny) which coincidentally was the movie we watched on Sunday….or was it a seminary movie?  Elder ------- is exactly…EXACTLY! like sharing a room with Rachel (heaven forbid she’s reading this) he’s from Canada and will not shut up about it!  I can stand him because he is the entertainment around here but really, words cannot describe the uncanny similarities between ------ and Rachel. 

But the MTC so far has been great.  The first day I got here I was put straight into the system.  I got my tag and I.D. and my host dropped my suitcases off in my room and then he took me to my classroom where I met my district and my companion.  They started (they being our teachers) talking to us in nothing but Spanish and we learned some basic Spanish stuff, but not a lot.  Then we had an orientation and we sang a revised version of Army of Helaman which has as the new lyrics that “we are now the Lord’s missionaries” instead of “we will be…” and that made me totally want to fall apart… (Rolling my eyes cause I wanted to cry) but then President Hinckley’s son came in with the first lady of Honduras and they just said “Hey..sup Elders,” cause you know they would totally say that but they really pretty much did.  And then we met with our zone leaders and one of them is named Elder Kim, and he is from Taejon, Korea.  Dad, I said that you served in Seoul and he was pretty jealous you went to the Olympics there too.  He is way cool!

That first night wasn’t so bad ‘cause I took an Ambien.  But the next couple days were really hard cause I missed you guys so bad but I said a prayer to Heavenly Father during gym time on an elliptical in front of a window looking over Utah Valley and I just prayed that I can focus and not feel bad and that I can have confidence and that I can do what is required of me.  And then everyday after that has been great!  I feel more confident in my abilities and even though Spanish is hard and learning the gospel can be hard at times I know that it will be all right and that everything is in its right place.  I know that the power of prayer is true and that your prayers and my prayers can bless us all.  The Lord truly blesses us with tender mercies.  I read a scripture that says “I Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are upon all those whom he hath chosen.”  I really love that scripture and it has brought me great comfort. 

Hymns have also brought me great comfort.  Our classroom window is always open and every hour I can hear the bell tower play Come, Come Ye Saints and I think of the lyrics of that song and I apply the lyrics to my life.  I love the hymns so much!!! Also from the window in the classroom (which my classroom building and number is 17M 241 for Mrs. Jones, which that is so cool that she is here!) but from the window I heard the cougar growl from the game going on (ha ha) it was awesome! 

In the words of Morrissey I wish “Every day is like Sunday.”  It was really nice.  We had a sacrament meeting (which every week we are assigned to give a 5 minute talk in Spanish cause any of us could get picked to speak and I was wondering if you mom or grandma could send me like a 5 minute talk on Faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ” and I can translate it.  Thanks. If you guys could help me out on that it would be great.  But yeah, Sunday was cool. 

Our branch president is named President Claybaugh and he’s like a mix of Matt Lauer and Brother Slade, he’s nice and his counselor is named Brother Washburn and he used to live in Pleasant Grove.  We had a nice meeting and a nice priesthood meeting where we learned “being of good cheer” is a commandment.  We had a fireside with the director of the MTC, I can’t remember his name, but he gave a great talk on tithing.  Then we watched a movie about Jose Smith which was good. 

And now today is p-day which is really fun (notice how this letter is clearly not written in 30 minutes, we have a ton of time today) we go to the temple today which I’m really looking forward to.  In other MTC notes, the gym is great!  I run all the time.  I love that trick of memorizing Spanish.  It’s that “onions-on-my-sneaker” thing and that works, ha ha (thanks dad.)  I also got to watch that Brandon Flowers Mormon video which was so cool cause there is music in it (you can’t listen to music at the MTC).   Also I have seen a few kids from high school. 

This is my big letter for the week to you guys.  Thank you for all the kind, beautiful words you guys send to me.  I love and miss you guys more than you know but the Lord will bless us so much for what we’re doing.  Thanks Grandma for all the letters, and keeping me updated, mark my words, I will wait for you!  Thank you Anna and Lauren for your letters, I’m glad the play went well and I hope you beat that cold!  Thanks for the letter and picture Molly!  You are such an adorable goof and I miss hanging with you and playing with you, but 2 years is only a few Jake episodes away “Yo Ho Mateys!”  Dad, thanks for the letters and tell Don to keep his mitts of my Korg! and Mom thanks so much for the inspiring letters.  That D&C 84:88 is printed on my water bottle, and it is such a great scripture and I wrote “All Things Are Difficult Before They Are Easy” on a card and I put it on my desk because I so agree with that and I remind myself of that if I ever get frustrated.  Thank you so much!!!   I love you so much and remember “It’s All Good.” 

I’m sorry I can’t write all you guys back.  I would love to but it is busy all the time.  So if I have time some time I will write more than one letter but till I really slip into the system (which I almost pretty much have) then I’ll just do a big letter.  And I might just read the e-mails today and if I have time I’ll respond to them.  Not meaning to sound all important it is just that they are really anal (for lack of a better term) about the 30 minute computer time.  So if I respond it will probably be just a short thing.

I learned to pray in Spanish and we are teaching an investigator named Faber, it’s a great but entirely awkward experience because I can only understand a little of what he is saying but enough to know the gist of what he is saying.  Same with the teachers cause they speak Spanish the entire time. 

Also, I remembered that this Saturday is Carly’s birthday.  Happy birthday on Saturday Carly!!!  I love you so much, you are truly the best! 

I think I’m going to wind up this letter with my testimony in Spanish that I am trying to memorize.  Yo se que la  iglesia es verdadera.  Yo se aue Jesu Christo es el Salvador.  Yo se que el evangelio Jesu Cristo es verdandero.  Yo se que vive mi senor.  En el nombre de Jesu Cristo, Amen.

May the Lord bless you buys for your sacrifice to put me here.  I’ll give 110% for sure.  I love you guys with all my heart, "s’all good".

Con amor,

Russ

P.S. Can I send a memory card through like the letter I’m sending you now or does it have to be through a special envelope?  Oh, and they have all the caffeine free Coke and chocolate mile I can drink.  Sweet!

          * This Letter was handwritten and received 11/19/11 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Second Letter From the MTC

     

 
                                                                                             November 15, 2011
   Hola Mi familia!

         Hey guys! Before you guys are shocked at how short this email is just let me tell you something. While I was doing my laundry I had a lot of time and a lot of stuff to say so I wrote you guys a big handwritten letter and I sent it before the pickup time for the postal service so maybe, hopefully, I’m praying you'll get that letter today. So again I feel really bad if I got your hopes up of me sending you guys an e-mail saying how everything has been but don't worry the letter that I sent is chuck full of EVERYTHING! that's happened so far. But I’ll write a few things that would be good for you guys to know. One is that I did it! I made it to Sunday! and that everything is going great and I’m getting into the groove of things. I did my laundry today and we are going to the temple at around 3.

The Spanish is coming along great, the conjugations are hard but I’m not stressing about it all that much. I am so busy all the time that it's crazy. And everybody in my district is green with jealous rage because I get the most mail (haha) thank you guys. Anyways you should be getting that letter in the mail either today or tomorrow, and again I’m soooooooo sorry that I sent the weekly letter I sent to you guys is via post office. I just had a lot of time to write everything I needed to say on a handwritten letter so fret not, it's a great letter. Be stoked!. Well I say it a lot in that letter but I love you guys soooooo  much. Words cannot express the joy I feel when I read your guys’ letters at night because they give me so much inspiration and encouragement and comfort, I wish I could respond to all of them.

I'm so glad to have such an amazing family like you guys, I’m so glad families are forever. Whenever I see the Provo temple my heart just pounds with joy that that is where we were all sealed together as a family and I’m so grateful for that. I love that plaque you bought mom that says "missionaries: people who leave their family for a little while so that other families may be together forever" what a great statement, I know that’s true...I hope you guys have an awesome day, I know I will, thank you for the letters and again I’m really sorry this email is short but you'll get that big letter soon and if you prefer handwritten letters in the future let me know, in my opinion, it's easier. I love you guys so much and I hope everything is going well. Count the Sundays till I get home! Remember "it's all good" and I’m doing great!

Con amor,

Russ

 *This letter was E-mailed and received 11/15/11