Back in Hawaii after 34 years

Written by: 
Kaitlin Broyles ~ Multimedia Journalist

Service enthusiasts, Elder and Sister Russell, came to BYU-Hawaii as part of their mission call two months ago.

“We are very fortunate to be here,” said Elder Russell. The couple said they wanted to be able to give back in an area they are passionate about and are excited to be at BYU-Hawaii.

When the Russells find time in their busy schedule serving, they like volunteering at the Polynesian Cultural Center. “But,” Elder Russell said, “we enjoy going to the beach with our sand chairs and just sitting on the beach, relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the nature around us.”

The Russells have actually been to Hawaii before. In 1976, they moved to Hawaii and Elder Russell taught Japanese in the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu. It was his first full time job after graduate school.

The missionary couple work in different areas of the university. Elder Russell works in the ELT Department where he is helping international students learn English. “I enjoy helping international students gain the needed skills to be successful leaders in the church and their community,” said Elder Russell. He added that he loves and respects his colleagues.

Sister Russell works in the Security Department in the mornings, tutors students in the afternoons, and assists with Devotionals on Tuesdays. In Security, she helps with administration, finances, and the basic running of the office. “I love my coworkers and the students who work there. I am new, so I am still learning and growing,” said Sister Russell. In the afternoon when she tutors, she helps international students with their English. “I really enjoy getting to know the students,” she said. Sister Russell also assists with getting the assignments for the prayer and devotional on Tuesday mornings.

The Russells serve in the YSA 2nd Stake 10th Ward. Elder Russell said he enjoys their ward very much. “We love getting to know the students and watching them learn English, life skills, and gain testimonies,” he said. “We really enjoy their testimonies. They are working hard to learn and improve themselves, and are preparing to go on missions. We feel like we are learning and growing with them.”

The Russells are from Orem, Utah. They have 17 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Elder Russell served his mission in Japan in the ‘60s and married Sister Russell in 1967.

Elder Russell graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in anthropology and linguistics. After graduation, Elder Russell served in the Air Force as a 238-pilot instructor for four years. After the Air Force, he went to graduate school for a degree in linguistics. During graduate school he was in the Air National Guard.

Elder Russell then taught Japanese at BYU in Provo for 30 years, after teaching at UH Manoa.

The Russells moved to Orem in the 1980s and had lived there up until two months ago when they moved to Laie to teach at BYUH.

The Russells lived in 18 different places during the first 12 years of their marriage. Those places include: Arizona, Utah, Florida, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Egypt. They retired in July of 2011.