Thursday, December 30, 2010

Russian Christmas

Well hello family!

Merry Christmas! It was really good to talk to you on Saturday. Dad, I've been trying to take your advice to heart and "walk softly'... though i'm still not sure i know exactly what that means. I do wish I could have talked to my sisters on that call as well, and i really wish i could have talked to my nieces. But, 40 mins isn't a lot of time, and it becomes even shorter when you spend half of it trying to set up a conference call, so i quite understand. We will have to see what we can do in may though.

So, I've got a lot I want to talk about, (being i had my first rRssian missionary Christmas) but i probably cant get to all of it. But i'll tell everyone about my Christmas Eve and Day, because I'm sure that's what everyone wants to know about.

Christmas Eve we had a couple lessons set up, and we actually had 2 of them work out. One with the family with unbaptized 9 year old daughter, and another with a less active woman who doesn't like to attend church because of the "fanatics". They were both really good meetings and we talked about Christ and the importance of His life and Atonement. We read in Matthew 2 where it talks about the wise men and how they brought gifts to Christ when they came and related to how we can all bring a gift to Christ at Christmas time. Whether it be repentance, baptism, service for others, forgiving someone, or whatever else would help bring us closer to our Savior. We also gave them some fudge that we made. We also happened to have planned to go by a potential investigator named Rudolf that we had talked to about a month back. I was so excited to see Rudolf on Christmas eve. BUT... when we went to the address we couldn't find it. There were NOT 106 apartments in that building. But then again a guess Rudolf probably WOULD have a magical invisible house in Russia. He was probably to busy preparing for his long flight to talk to us anyway. After we returned home for the night we had our Christmas eve "feast" of blueberry pie with ice cream topped with russian chocolate syrup, some russian chocolate cereal, some of our homemade russian fudge. It was delicious. The only thing it lacked was oreos. I'm not usually a fan of chocolate with my ice cream, but 1. russian chocolate is soooo good. 2. my tastes have changed. I know kinda like things that i never did before like tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and coconut. So after our feast and writing in our journals some we set out some milk and fudge for santa, left the tree lights on (we have about a 1 1/2' tree in our window sill) and went to bed and had dreams of contacting in the snow. In the morning we got up and saw that santa had come! or at least the fudge and milk had been eaten in the night. We then reopened our packages (I got a pity package from the office as my packages haven't come in yet) and got ready to go to the christmas concert at one of the church buildings. The Christmas concert was probably the strangest thing I've ever seen in my life. if you thought that "the nightmare before Christmas" but a strange spin on the holiday, try going to a russian Christmas party. that's all i have to say about that. at the party i got a ton of letters given to me by the office senior couple and so then we returned home and read letters, and called home. So there was my Christmas.

Now about the man we named "The Giver" from the book called "The Giver". we call him so because he has light blue eyes and a long white beard. he'd also make a good russian santa claus or father time. But earlier in the week we made a trek out to his house. He lives a little bit out of the city in the private home sector. we had to walk there and it took us a good 2 hours or so of trekking through 2 1/2 feet or so of snow. when we finally got there... he wasnt home. so we left a note saying we came by and inviting him to come to church. well yesterday he showed up! I was really excited when he walked in half way through sacrament meeting. After sacrament meeting we went with him to sunday school and priesthood meeting where i was elected to sit by him. I was a little hesitant because i still dont really know russian, but i did so anyway. well... that made for the most interesting church meeting of my life. The man was either drunk, old and sick, crazy, or just very hot. But he kept on swaying back and forth the whole time and i was sure he was going to face plant it on the ground about 40 times. but he always recovered right before i went to grab him. except for when he didnt. I did catch him in time to save his head from hitting anything though. He kept saying he was fine every time i asked and when i tried to ask him if he wanted to take of his coat he just looked at me. So between him being on my blind side, worrying about him dying right next to me, being asked to read and answer questions in russian, and trying to understand what was even going on in the lesson.... that was the most stressful 2 hours of my mission. it wore me out. after church when we got home i fell asleep trying to study russian as elder swainston cooked.

Well in closing, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and then dispel a few myths i've been seeing through letters. its not cold here.... 3 degrees celcius today. my coat keeps me HOT most the time. And i don't know russian.well. love you

love elder ellis

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad, Grandma, and Jesus...

Well what a crazy week this last one was.
I'll start of by saying Happy birthday to Dad and Grandma tomorrow. I've been anxiously awaiting your birthday... because well it’s when the days start getting longer. Dawn ends around 10, Dusk starts around 2:30 and by 3:00 it’s completely dark. so, that's about 4 1/2 hours of clouds! haha. The sun never sets on the Roman Empire... well in winter, the sun never rises in Russia. The temperature today is -11 degrees Celsius. I forgot what that is in F because i had my alarm clock with thermometer on our window sill.... and it must have fallen. I was a little upset about that. Aunt Donna is probably thinking she failed at teaching me any chemistry.... but that's not true! Ice starts to melt at 0 degrees celcius (32 degrees F)! It’s snowing today, and the ground is still solid ice. I made a goal last week to not fall a single time.... and i did it! but since that week has ended i have fallen 2 more times, bringing the sack total up to 9 for the season. I need a better, stronger tackle on my blindside. I hate to laugh at my own jokes.... but that's funny in so many ways.
Tuesday and Wednesday we had Mission Conference. all 68? missionaries together. I learned a lot from the conference about how i can become a better missionary. Speaking of which, I would like to apologize for some of my negative remarks in the letters i've been sending. It's hard getting used to so many people so quickly while trying to figure out what the heck i'm supposed to be doing as a missionary, and then translating that into Russian. It was good to see all the Elders in a less stressful setting and realize that they are actually really good missionaries and people. I quite like Elder Crookston when I have a little bit of time away from him. And I certainly don't feel like punching Elder Brewer in the face when my head isn't about to explode from all the russian being packed in it. Mission conference was good. I realized a lot of things i need to improve on and i got the motivation to do it as well. We had planned on 6 elders staying in our apartment for 2 nights and working with us in our area. So we bought a lot of spaghetti stuff, cereal and put a lot of work in planning stuff for them to do. Well, they were there for only one night and we were able to work with them for just about an hour. So, we're going to be eating lots of spaghetti and cereal this next week, and we won't ever have to think about what to do when a meeting falls through. Within that hour 2 of the elders were able to find a former investigators on the route i gave them, and that investigator now is preparing to be baptised on the 8th of January. Our first part of the 200 baptisms we hope to achieve in this next year. or should i say, the 200 people we hope to bring closer to Christ through baptism. this year i think the mission had around 130. so 200 is a stretch... but we are a stretchy people.
Friday I went to Lithuania. That was interesting. got up at 4 am, headed to the airport, flew to Moscow, flew to Vilnius Lithuania, went through passport control, walked through the airport and came back to passport control, boarded the same plane and came back to Moscow, had a pretty long layover, and then flew back into samara. got to bed at 2am. Oh visa trips. looooong days. I enjoyed it though. Luckily president wanted us to get a full 8 hours of sleep afterwards... so we slept in til 10. That was weird. it's been 5 months since i've slept in past 6:30..... oh man... its even STRANGER saying that! but, i've now been to THREE countries in my life. Lithuania, Russia, and good ol' usa. The best part of the trip was getting above the clouds and seeing the SUN! it exists!!!!!!!!
well, i better wrap this up with a few answers to questions. the plan is i'll be calling home around 6-7 pm on christmas day. so 9 to 10 missouri time, 8-9 idaho/ UTAH????? time. My family isn't a utah family. weird. That wasnt negative by the way..... :/
i've not gotten any packages yet, but it sounds like from when they were sent ill get them sometime mid to late january. no worries.. i'm not sad i wont have them by christmas. I got a pity package from the office with a few goodies in them. So really i scored. and i'll be opening presents for my companion's birthday as well, so i wont feel left out. haha.
well i love you all! thank you for all the e-mails and letters! I got a ton of dear elders this week! (i think e-mails probably better... i actually get them before a month has gone by)
Elder Ellis


Monday, December 13, 2010

Walkin (and sliding, and falling) in a Winter Wonderland!

Well another week has gone by.
Not a whole lot has gone down this week, but it has seemed to be a successful week. We have 3 new investigators and 1 that we're hoping to get a baptismal date with soon. so... 4 in all. I was kinda surprised yesterday when we were adding up our weekly totals to report. Because honestly, i havent felt all that productive this last week. But, I look at what we have accomplished this last week, and its a pretty good amount.
We've been gearing up for Christmas and all the strange things that go on during that time. Elder Swainston and i found some decorations that "sisters from christmas past" have left behind, and so we decorated a little. We have a 20" tree with lights and 6 bell ornaments, some ribbon, and a star on top that i made out of yellow post-it notes. we have garland around the window sill in which the tree sits, with some red and gold globe ornaments. a nativity set cut out thing we found in one of the Liahona's (church magazine) and i have cut out about 7 or 8 paper snowflakes and taped them to the window. all in all its a pretty sweet... yet humble... set up.
I've heard i've got a package or two coming my way, so i'll be sure to give a shout out when i get them and what all made it. I also sent an e-mail President sent to me about calling home. i havent really read it yet... but you can!
So this next week should be quite the busy one. tomorrow and wednesday we have mission conference. all 68 missionaries are coming to samara for 2 days. 7 of which are staying in our apartment. cereal and spaghetti is on the menu. I've still got a few things left to hide in the apartment... if you dont want it used... hide it. And aparently things end up missing when elders come... i'm not a big fan of the whole "what's yours is mine" idea that goes along with being a missionary. I seem to think...there's mine... and there's yours... and then there is ours. I guess I need to be more Christ-like and charitable. but its both a blessing and a curse to have the extra missionaries in our area. more to feed, more to make messes, less quite, less peace, more stress.... but a good boost of work done in our area. but that has taken a good deal of planning.
Thursday might be a normal day. we have planning...from 1:00-4:00 so its not really a normal day... but as close as it gets this next week. Friday... visa trips. so i'll be getting up at 4am... getting on a bus, then a plane, sitting in moscow airport, getting on another plane, running through customs in.... another country(forgot which one), turning around and going back to the same plane, sitting in moscow airport, getting on a plane, getting on a bus... and getting home around 2am. not exactly the 'vacation' like atmosphere our teachers in the mtc told us about. Things have changed... the church has figured out how to make these trips a lot more effecient.
saturday we have sports night... maybe. our zone is really bad on making plans for sports nights.... so they never really happen. which is a shame, i think they could be really good finding / reactivation opportunities.
its not too cold here lately. high teens low 20's in F. ice on the ground... that was fun at first. got old kinda fast. I'm working on perfecting the "slide-walk" at-first because it was fun... but now because its a lot easier. The fall count in now up to 7. I fell on the stairs outside of our apartment one day and my back was sore the next day. BUT... i've made it a goal to nall fall this week. so far so good. *knocking on wood*
I'm getting a little sick... just a little bit of a cold. green snot. but that's not really sick now is it. definitely nothing to complain about.
Well... i gotta get going. time is running up, and the guy behind us is trying to tell us that we think that God was an american. so, hopefully we can give him some of the facts about our religion instead of the crap you find on the internet.
love you all! hope all is well!
love, Elder Ellis.

P.S. I have a microwave... i get on the internet in a internet club thats in the basement of some building and everyone around us is playing world or warcraft... its kinda shifty, but gets the job done. Theres no usb drive so i can send pictures, but i'm working on finding a way to get some out. oh, and if you have a question CAPITALIZE IT so i can skim through and answer it. otherwise the chances of it getting answered are low. hope to hear from all of you. and anyone can e-mail me. but i must write home.

pps. request my email from my mom.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Well this last week has been a little crazy as far as the weather goes. On tuesday it snowed all morning, probably a good 6 inches or so. then right as we made our way outside to start contacting and what not.. it turned to rain? pretty heavy rain too. So that was pretty cold because we hadn't prepared for the rain (because it was too cold) and we were far from home when it started. so we got wet. but then, the rain turned to freezing rain. meaning that we were freezing. Luckily i broke out the boots that day, so atleast my feet were dry. at dinner we came in and got dry and ready to go back out for the night. and then the temperature dropped. so the ground turned from 6 inches of snow, to 4 inches of slush, then all of that slush froze solid into weird shapes. It's kinda hard to walk on... i've fallen twice. the next day it got down to -20 degrees celcius.. which is something like... i forgot. you can convert it. i believe -15 C is -5 F though. but yeah... it was pretty cold. nose hairs freeze instantly. it stayed that cold for a day or two and then the rest of the week got warmer and was right around -10 C. On sunday it sleeted and filled in all the weird ruts the frozen sluch created, so its now a lot easier to walk without dying.
So i said last week that i'd tell more about elder swainston. and well, nothing else interesting really happened this week, so i will do that now. I'm very much enjoying serving with elder swainston again. He's from utah (Of course) and was a football player in highschool. He's somewhat simular to owen. which is why i like him. He's very organized and our apartment is kept VERY clean. which is awesome. I'm realizing how slobby elder crookston and i were. In fact today i'm on exchanges with elder crookston in his new area.... and it's a pig sty. I cant wait to get back to my nice clean apartment on the south side of town. Also, elder swainston is quite the good cook. if we had some good sausauge, his speghetti would rival yours mom. well, not really rival, its just very simular. though, i think i may have forgotten the taste... its been too long! so yes, i am now well fed and quite happy. The only complaint i have about elder swainston is that he cooks and then tries to do all the dishes. If he's doin the cooking, i should atleast do the dishes. but he's too quick. I try really hard to try to serve him just to try to keep up, but its impossible. But i think that's why i enjoy working with him so much. I WANT to serve him, because he does so much for me. other elders... i didnt want to serve... because they never did anything for me, but MORE they never did much for themselves.
Also he's kind of a quieter fella. which means i actually have time to try to talk in lessons and to get used to speaking russian. as a result my russian learning has been picking up. I'd say i've gone up a rung or two on this latter. But, it's a pretty tall ladder. I've got A LOT to learn. President continues to tell me i need to be a master of the language so that i can be one of his leaders in the next month or so. dang. i'm scared. because in july 20-30 elders go home.... and we're apparently gettting 5. There is a lot of.... growing opportunities for me ahead. oh boy.
Investigators. our way good investigator that has a baptismal date in a 2 weeks... isnt really progressing. his girlfriend called and said that he was no longer interested and didnt like coming to our church when he came. but, we've heard that from her before, and it was a lie then... i we think its a lie now. i finally got ahold of him and he said he was still interested, but its just hard because he works all the time, and he girlfriend isnt for it. so he's kinda on the back burner for now.
our other investigator with a baptismal date.. well she was supposed to get baptized last saturday. so i dont think that will happen. She hasn't answered any of our calls, but she does still talk to one of the members. from what i can tell, she's interested and believes, its just not a priority right now.
And then theres our 9 yr old investigator. her family is 'less active' but they've been 3 out of the last 5 sundays. well the mother and the girl. we've had really good lessons with their whole family and they know the doctrine well... they just dont apply it. faith without action. at our last meeting with them we asked them to have a goal for baptism for the girl, and the gril got really excited. she really wants to get baptised! but her mother is affraid that they arent ready as a family for her to be baptized. She says she that it isnt good for her to get baptized right now if they arent going to be active. We're trying to help them understand that setting goals isnt for people that are ready to achieve them. but rather, goals help us to prepare to be ready. if we were ready right now, we wouldnt need a goal. we'd simply do it.
I'm learning a lot about stretching myself to help me grow. I'm not ready to speak russian to people with so much at stake for them... but i'm here, i'm speaking... and that is the ONLY way i'll ever be ready. when i started cross country i surely wasnt ready to run 3 miles. but the only way i became good at it was running 3 miles. makes sesnse in my head.
well, thats all the time i have for this week. I love you all and hope all is well!
Elder Ellis

Monday, November 29, 2010

4 months!

I've officially been gone for 4 months now. that's 1/6 of my mission. I still don't know if that went by slow or fast.
This last week has been somewhat of the hectic one. monday morning i was with elder kazikov. we shopped for 2 people for 2 days with one person's budget. Elder kazikov wanted to go meet up with the zone leaders for lunch (elder crookston and bolt) since he was being transferred to kazan... which is something like 8 hours away. so we went up to the zone leaders area, I finally was able to find a bible in russian, and then we went out to lunch. McDonalds! Oh i was so happy! I was a little disappointed that they werent serving breakfast by the time we got there, but then i realized they didn't make saugsage egg cheese mcgriddles and cinnamelts anyway. Which is also a dissapointment... i wanted to show elder kazikov what a real one was like, and not our homemade version.
After lunch we came back to the apartment and did laundry and all that, and then we got a call that elder williams would be joining us for the next day or so. 3 people eating food for 2 on 1 person's budget. The next day because there were 3 of us we decided to go on splits. they somehow thought it would be a good idea for them to go together and for me to go with a member. I stressed out about it all day long. I don't know much russian... he doesnt know much english. Finally the time came and they left me. the member and i went to go visit a less active member in the area, and it actually all went pretty well. I was VERY thankful for the Lord's help in helping me understand and be able to talk in a clear and understandable way. The Lord really does help us to do AMAZING things if we will just have faith and pray.
The next morning Elder kazikov and williams left, and elder swainston came. We had to treat it like a second p-day because there was NO food in the apartment and the apartment was kind of a mess. elder crookston left it messy, and then elder kazikov and williams added there part. Then we got a call that 2 other elders would be joining us for the evening. so we went on splits again. This time I was with elder brewer. Elder brewer knows like 4 languages and seems pretty smart (harvard student i believe) but... no matter how smart you are, you always come off as an idiot if you think you know EVERYTHING. I really didn't know what our plans were. I don't know a lot of russian. I don't know a lot about missionary work. I'm still young. But he expected me to know everything. "what are we doing next?" "what now?" "who is this person?"....... i just simply don't know. and i would appreciate it if you would ask in english because i'm feeling a little overwhelmed by you. after a few hours with him i really wanted to punch him in the face.... it was not a good night. but i made it through without any sort of abuse given. we finally met back up and i was able to work with elder swainston for a little bit finally, and they left. I was happy with their departure... until we realized they took our map and our ward list with them. dang. The next day was thanksgiving. I didnt realize that until we got a call from sister sartori inviting us to thanksgiving dinner at the office. Oh the perks of being IN samara and not one of the outlying cities in the mission. we had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with president and sister sartori, the templetons (the office couple), the assistants, our zone leaders, and the avrora elders and sisters. 14 in all. after dinner we had a little testimony/ "i'm thankful for..." meeting. I really do have a lot to be thankful for. And i'm thankful for this opportunity to serve the Lord and to bless my family the best way possible.
after dinner we caught a ride back home with a the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency (the same member i went on splits with.. pres. kleemov) and the secretary (also in our area sasha tolkachov) sasha served a mission in washington state and so he knows english. and so we listened to christmas music all the way home. Made me miss being home a little bit, but once the music stopped i was able to focus again.
Oh. time out. I want to let grandma know that i got her dearelder letter..... 5 or six times. haha. Everyone at the thanksgiving dinner was jealous of my MANY letters.... little did they know it was all the same letter pretty much.
Let's see... I'll talk more about elder swainston next week as i am out of time. I'm really happy to be working with him. Its been a little bit of the blind leading the blind as he's been trying to get aquainted with the area, but hey, i'm used to being half blind.
I think we're finally getting it together though. Im learning a lot about being organized.
well, i'll try to get some letters off in the mail today or tomorrow. I've not gotten around to going to the post office in the last 2 weeks :/ sorry. I think I should have more time now with elder swainston tho.
Well, love you all! hope all is well and I hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving! i did. don't worry... I ate without YOU this year :P
Elder Ellis

Monday, November 22, 2010


I've been in Russia for a full cycle now! 6 weeks.... that’s hard to believe it’s been that long. And yet, it seems much longer. Time is a funny thing, SO..... End of the cycle... transfers. I am staying here in bezimonski. However, my trainer elder crookston is not. I'm a little excited about this. I like elder crookston, but I’m a little tired of feeling like a trainee. He also likes to carry the load of the work, which doesn’t allow for me to work out my missionary muscles and grow. let alone my weak language muscles. But he's going and I'm going to be required to do a lot more of the work since my new comp won’t know the area, BUT I DO! sorta. I'm excited for it. and what’s more, I'm getting elder Swainston!!!! That means nothing to pretty much everyone but me and him... but he was my companion in the mtc 3 days! I'm excited to work with him and i feel like the Lord has a reason He wants us together.
So this morning was a little crazy with transfers. right now I’m with elder kazikov until swainston gets here in a day or two (he's coming from a pretty far away city) I like elder kazikov a ton too... on our 2 exchanges we've had we eat banana pancakes and it makes me happy :) I’m a little sad he's going to another city.... no more banana pancakes at his apartment.
Other good news, Our really good investigator came to church and set a baptismal date! His goal is to get baptized in 4 weeks, but we're thinking that that date will move up he is preparing well. He needs to find a new apartment and stop smoking before he'll be ready, but he seems like he'll do it. Our other 2 investigators we cant seem to get to church... sigh... so we're working on them.
story from this week.... on Friday we had to go out of our area to teach a man at his work. we left at 4 and traveled to his work. it took us forever to get there because of traffic and weird bus routes, but we finally got there. But.... he wasn't there and no one knew anything about him. dang. so we started heading home. Waited at a bus stop for a good 30-40 minutes without seeing a single bus. Finally we decided we would just take a trolley car about 3/4 of the way and just walk the rest. so we got on the trolley car and went about 2 blocks before it stopped. the conductor came out of her booth and told us all to get off. Something was weird and all the trolley cars were stopped in one spot. there were about 30 trolley cars lined up, with all the conductors standing around talking and a few policemen... not sure what that was about but then we just had to give up and walk. so finally we get back (4 hours all together) and we get a call from some other elders with a member from another town that is working in our area and wanted to introduce us to his friends. They're all construction workers building a huge apartment building and living in it while the build it. so we walked up 13 flights with him and came to this small square concrete room with a table built out of scraps and everyone sitting on bags of concrete mix. felt like a treehouse club meeting. in the room were 2 americans, 2 russians, and 4 uzbekistans. religions were 3 mormons, 1 Jehovah's wittness, 1 russian orthodox, and 3 muslims. ages ranging from 20 to 60. strange little group. we had a good discussion with all of them and 3 of them seemed rather interested. they want us to come back and teach them, and they want to feed us plov. i'm a little scared... sanitary issues. I'm thinking we wont.
well, time is up i just realized. theres finally snow on the ground... its slippery. time to break out the thermals.
sorry this letter was a little scattered brained... i didnt take notes this week.
love you all!
love elder ellis.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Month in Russia!

Holy moly. I've been living in russia for over a month now! I don't really feel like it went by quickly... but i'm not sure how that happened. I think when we changed our clocks we actually got a week off or something.... i'll have to look into that.
So this last week has been a pretty good one for the most part. the best part: Volva. Volva is a 22 yr old man we met on the streets one night. He said he wanted to meet, and HE ACTUALLY SHOWED up. we taught him a lesson at a members house about how he can feel God's love more in his life as he strives to follow Christ. It was a way good lesson and the spirit was quite strong. He said he wanted to meet again and HE commited US to the next day. so the next day came and HE called US in the morning to set up a time. but, when the time came he said that his girlfriend wouldn't let him leave without her... she thought we were a cult. so ofcourse we were happy to tell him to bring her along. so we went back to the same members house and his girlfriend was kinda scary. the members have a big ol' happy german shepherd that wanted to be pet by her... but she's deathly afraid of dogs. so that was kinda bad... a small child almost died... but anyway. so we sat down for a lesson and she interrogated us. We were both so afraid of her, i was about to crack and confess to murder! but somehow we got through her questions and were able to draw the spirit into the room and we were all able to learn. We invited them to come to the church building here in bezimonski for another lesson the next day and to learn more about what we do at church. they both agreed and seemed interested. well the next day came, and we waited, and waited, and finally volva showed up alone. we had a way good lesson about how Christ has restored his true church through the prophet Joseph Smith, and today we are guided by a prophet that recieves revalation from God and he said he wanted to get baptised when he recieves an answer on his prayers to find out if the Book of Mormon is true or not. we then walked him home (we're neighbors) and he told us that he was late because his girlfriend didnt want him to come and they got in a fight about it (she decided we were a cult again?) and she went to hit him and he ducked and then she pushed him into a mirror and it broke and in the confussion he ran out the door. She's scary. He has such a strong desire to follow Christ, despite all the stumbling blocks he has in his life that would prevent it. I'm learning a lot from him and his faith. The next time we met with a different member (yesterday) and talked about... well about everything. The member (the branch president here... who is pretty blunt) told him it was a sin to live with his girlfriend if they werent married and that he was in great need of repentance.... eeek... we were sure we lost him right there.. but he just looked at president jestkov and said... "i whole heartedly agree with that.... thank you" wow. Like i said... he has such a strong desire to follow christ... its amazing.
We're also seeing a lot of progress with 2 of other investigators. one has been listening to lessons with the missionaries since august, and the other is the daughter of a part member less active family. We have a baptismal date for the 4th with the first one, and we're setting a goal with the other one tonight when we got to help there family start holding family night each monday.
Fun things this week: each cycle we have a cultural night with president and and the zone. so on friday we went to a russian play about all these families that live in the russian dorms and share a huge kitchen. it was way cool to see a play in a different language, and it was a very well put together play. best i've seen (sorry all of the drama friends i have...) I learned quite a bit about some of the circumstances that MANY russians have to deal with living in these dorms. and i was surprised with how much i understood without understanding anything that was being said. I get acting now.... its intriguing.
the other neat thing we had was a sports night and exchanges with the zone leaders. i learned a lot from the zone leaders, and the sports night was cool because it was looking like it was going to be a huge failure... but we had some faith and it worked out! the branch here is already becoming so much stronger. I'm excited to see it grow more.
well, outta time
i love you all and hope all is well back in america / canada...
elder ellis

Monday, November 8, 2010

From Russia with love

What a week this last one has been. Time is finally picking up and no longer dragging on an on. which is bitter sweet. it would be just sweet if i actually knew this language. let's see... mom, i just got all of your letters that you sent before eisley's birth. tree pictures, kennady stories, texas trip etc. I'm unsure whether or not you are yet satisfyed with the information you have about russia... so here are some things.
Coat, i bout a good one for about 5000 rubles.. which is something like 160 bucks. it's superwarm, kinda heavy, has lots of pockets (two perfect sized pockets for Book of Mormon and Kneega Mormona... yes... i have to carry both around so i know what's going on) i unzipped the hood for a while, but i'm thinking i'll need to zip it back on soon.
food. this one i'm learning to deal with. My companion has habits with food, and i'm not sure that his habits are going to be my habits. I think he might be a little frustrated with me because i seem like a really picky eater. which maybe i am, but really i'm just a simple eater. i like my apples (good apples here... if you can find the unbruised ones) i like cereal. i'd be happy with t\just those two things really. but once you start trying to get creative is when i get a little frustrated. i'm much as i was in highschool again.... i'm just always hungry. unusual from the dustin of the last two years that never did any work and therefore was never much of an eater. for me, its quantity over variety. for him its variety. but i'm not starving... tho those 12 lbs i gained in the mtc... gone. and then some. i've lost like 6 kg since i've been here... which is ... i dunno.
it snowed for the second time this week, but its now melted again so everything is just mud again. mud mud mud. so much mud.
oh... i'm thinking i may not be sending much of anything home for christmas. everyone has planted seeds of doubt in my mind that anything ever makes it... so yeah. i'm going to give you a running list of things that i want or need that i cant get here that you can put in a package whenever you MIGHT send one. don't feel like you have to. first thing on the list Signo 207 gel pens. buy the pack of 8 colors. my ink is running low and my letters need COLOR. infact, send 2 packages. i love those pens. um.... oh and 3x5 pictures: STL temple, family, me and owen, kortney ben and kennady together, kendra nathan and eisley together, eisley, king kong, cardboard castle, hollywood way museum castle, house, house in the snow.
ok, running out of time quickly so i'll tell you a bit about this last week.
This last week started out pretty rough... and stayed pretty rough most of the week. We simply cannot get people to set up times to meet with us and then ACTUALLY COME. so frustrating. Don't they know that ALL we want to do is to help THEM. I think i understand God a little more now though. His whole work and glory is to bring about the eternal life of man. aka all he wants to do is to help US to be happy. Therefore, he gives us commandments and helps us to make covenants with Him. Following commandments and keeping covenants lead us to happiness. How frustrated He must be that we are constantly making it hard for him to help us.
But, we stayed diligent, and stayed hopeful. finally yesterday we were able to meet with volva. volva is about 22 and attended a baptist church a couple years ago in a different city. he believes in God, but said he hadn't felt his love much in his life. So we met with him and talked about how we can better feel God's love as we strive to become closer to Him. Much like a fire, we can feel the heat the closer we get. if you get too far off than we stop feeling the heat... but that in no way means that the fire is not burning. We have high hopes for volva, he's already overcome 2 of the major russian barriers. The tradition to be russian orthadox, and before he met with with us his aunt told us everything bad that " 'mormons' do and believe". this morning he actually called us to set up a time to meet. elder crookston and i just laughed in surprise.
funny story: last night as we were contacting we ran into a older man named... you guessed it: sasha (everyone is named sasha, or sergei it seems like" and upon shaking our hands he went on and on about how good my wife was going to be, and how my wife was going to be a MUCH better wife than elder crookstons. He wouldn't let it go either. he just went on and on and on about it. quite funny. elder croockston didnt like that man much... and just kept talking about how he can do more pushups than me. which i think is true, but not by much... and i don't sound like i'm giving birth when i do push-ups.... so whatever that is worth.
well times running out!
i hope all is well at home! i love you all!
elder ellis

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Ok, a quick update on this week and my doings and then i will write a little more story.
It snowed for the first time on the 30th. its getting pretty cold here, especially since i got my hair cut today. I am going to day to get a scarf, maybe some good gloves, and a good hat. On Friday and saturday i went on exchanges with the zone leaders and i went to another part of the city with Elder Kazikov. I'm finding i get along much better with native russian missionaries than the american ones... or maybe its just the utah ones? I dunno. But i do get along pretty well with elder crookston, I'm just not used to living with him yet. on saturday we had a fireside with the members of the branch where we talked about Christ as our shepherd. we're trying to get the members to go find the 'lost sheep' in the branch and help them to come back to church and take full advantage of the gospel. they're building a building here for this branch, but they have stopped work on it... maybe because they don't actually need it for how many active members there are. 20-30 out of 350. so in the fireside we had 300 sheep cut out and laid on the table. bless sister tolkachov's heart for cutting them all out for us. we told her only 100 would be good, but i guess being bored and pregnant she decided to go the extra mile for us. we now have a lot of sheep to take notes on and use as reminders, haha. The most frustrating thing this past week has been canceled lessons. for example, yesterday we had 6 lessons scheduled. but, as the day went on we found ourselves with only 1 of those actually occurring, and that was with an active member family. We have had 1 or 2 lessons this week tho, one with alyssa. she's 18 and knows she needs to get baptized by immersion, but isn't sure which church really has the authority. we showed her the restoration film and asked her to pray to know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God. We haven't been able to follow up yet because she has been out of town but we have a lesson with her tonight. the other is a less active part member family. the mother and the son are both baptized and confirmed members, the 9 year old daughter isn't baptized, and the father was baptized, but took up smoking again that same night and so was never able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed a member. we're helping to activate the mother and the son so that they can help the father and the daughter to be baptized AND confirmed.
president satori came to our branch yesterday and in my short interview (mine are ALWAYS short.. but i guess that's really not a bad thing) he told me that i better be preparing to be one of his leaders because he's going to use me as such not too long from now. kinda intimidating. he told me one thing that i need to really work on is becoming an expert in the language so that i can interpret for him.... scary signs. I'm building more faith that i can learn the language well, but I'm not exactly sure how to go about it yet.
well so much for the 'short' update.

i hope all is doing well and that my new niece is learning how to be a handful!
love you all!
Elder Ellis
continued story:
terminal c to get my bags. well, terminal c is 30 minutes away. so we tried to take the shuttle but they wouldn't let us ride because our tickets were for terminal d. so finally we caught a bus for terminal c and noticed the the other samara missionary's bags were still there. i hadnt seen them since that morning. so long story short, after 3 hours of trying to find my bags i was finally able to get a hold of them and rejoin with everyone else. so we waited for my samara buddies... but they never came. it came time for me to go through security so i did, grabbed some borsh at one the the 2 restaurants in the Moscow airport, said goodbye to the rest of my mtc friends and got on a russian airline alone and flew the hour to samara. i tried to speak to a few people on the plane, but i couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand me. finally i arrived at the airport, crammed myself onto a bus with 100 other people and made it to the terminal. I met president satori and told him about the missing missionaries and then went to the mission home where i was FINALLY able to shower and sleep after being in my suit for.... 2 days? i don't even know. the next morning the missionaries were able to get a flight in and were finally found. long story about how they got lost... and i don't have time to get into that. but i am in russia now! so, first day in russian... cold, wet, stressful... i better get used to it! But i am happy to finally be here doing this important work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life in Russia

Alright so i'm going to try to type more of my travel stories, but i'm sure you're anxious to hear how i'm doing right now and for the last two weeks.

Well, first off i have a very nice coat. I've actually been a little warm in it so far... so once it gets colder ill just be a little cold. haha. It's been pretty cold already... don't know temperature... and its rained a good amount. shoes in russia do NOT stay clean for very long... well.. they just don't stay clean period. we travel by walking, the metro, trolley bus, city bus, and gazzels. gazzels are kinda scary... actually its all kinda scary. my area is the southern part of the city of samara: bezimonski. which means "without a name". it's all stores, billboards, and huge dom's (apartment complexes). the branch here has 350 members, but only about 30 are active. so we've spent a great deal of time strengthening members both active and inactive.

One of the first days we were here we were able to help branch president jestkov dig a hole at his mother's house. his mother lives in a house with two rooms that together are the size of our family room. the rooms are a bedroom and a kitchen. the bathroom is included in the kitchen. a chair with a hole in it over a bucket. very humbling circumstances. we had the did the hole to... well i dunno. some water problem. but we dug a hole about 6ft deep, 4 ft across and 6 feet long. IMPOSSIBLE TO DO IN MISSOURI. but here, there are now rocks.... just dirt and dirt, and mud. heavy mud. i've always wanted to dig a hole to china.... but strangely i found myself digging a hole back to the US. never thought it would go that way. after we worked a while she made us come in and eat. we tried not too because 1. we didn't want to get sick. and 2. She really doesn't have the money to feed us. Finally she convinced us to eat... she just yelling "kooshet koosheet!" "eat eat" in her 90 year old angry voice. it was actually pretty good... i don't know what it was but it was good.

Oh! I had my first baptism this week. we inherited and eternal investigator, who on our fist lesson decided it was time to get baptized. so we had a small service on saturday. she was baptized in the above ground pool filled with water that i'm really glad i didnt have to get in. president bargdonov performed the baptism. i don't know what he's president of yet.
well, i think i better wrap this up. I'm doing well, i'm healthy safe and happy. We spent most the day today cleaning out pipes in our apartment... so our apartment smells like death right now... but i feel a little better about our pipes.

Some quick business: i would like some recipes! specific ones i want: banana bread. almost stuffed peppers, spaghetti. and anything else that i like and can be made in about 30 mins or so. also, for Christmas all i want is money so that i can buy gifts for people and send them home. i need to do that soon tho so let me know in your next e-mail how much i can spend on that. oh and i'll get a list of things i need for a package to you as a new years gift. new years is big here in russia. or maybe the jan christmas. haha.

well love you! ill send more about my travel story next week!
say hello to Eisley for me!!!!!

Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, October 18, 2010


well I'm here! not really used to it yet... but that will come. I'll tell a little about where i am right now and then get into my stories. I'm serving in the безымянскии area with my companion Elder Krookston. i don't really know how to spell his name... i only see it it russian and even then i dont pay enough attention. The area is in the city of samara and therefore very city like. our apartment is on the 4th floor of a building near one of the metro entrances. Elder krookston and i both arrived in the area at the same time... so we dont really know where anything is yet... kinda fun... but really not. worst part is that he openly admits he has a horrible sense of direction. I actually have a pretty good sense of direction... but i dont understand russian... so we spend a lot of time trying to figure out wehere we are and where to go. infact coming here we made about 4 big circles. kinda frustrating. The branch here has one of the highest memberships in the mission. it has over 350 on the records! but on sunday... about 20 showed up. many many many less actives. so that part of the work we are doing here. trying to activate! ok story time. starting last...monday. pretty much going straight from my journal here
what a day(s). we woke up at 3:30 am (utah time), finished packing and cleaning and headed out. took a bus to SLC airport where i called my parents. I then boarded a plane with ct. maksymov and sis. ostapchuk to NYC JFK airport. apon arrival at JFK we made a dash to catch our flight to moscow. We made it! it was while walking on that flight that the "I'm going to a foreign country for 2 years" feeling finally hit me. my thoughts as i walked on board: "it smells funny in here...Everyone is russian... I'm the only american...they all know i'm the only american... nobody is smiling.... i need to smile less...OH CRAP.... WHAT AM I DOING!?!?!?" haha. so that was a long flight from NYC to Moscow. I wrote a lot of letters, and talked with elder maksymov and sister ostapchuk a little. after a while we landed in moscow. it was while getting off the plane that elder maksymov pointed out that there was a famous russian super star on board.. so that was cool i guess?
after we got off the flight and went through customs we were met by a senior missionary couple and a church driver. we loaded up our bags and went with the driver to terminal c which is about 30 min drive from the other terminals (you have to go alll the way around) at terminal c the driver had us check our bags in a luggage hold and then drove us back to meet with the other incoming missionaries and the senior couple. when we got back to terminal a i went inside to meet up with elder rigby and bonous so that the 3of us could go to the US embacy in moscow to get our 2nd passports. and sister ostapchuk and elder maksymov went the other direction. I was slightly overwhelmed by the process because nobody seemed to be on the same page an most everyone was speaking in fast russian i couldnt understand. so the 3 of us were driven through moscow to the US embacy. i was pretty neat driving throught the crazy streets of moscow. this place is fascinating to me... outside the city are is beatiful country sides with fall trees everywhere and with in the city are old building and factories with so much character. after a few hours we recieved our 2nd passports, and made it back to the airport to meet up with the russian missionaries... but my samara buddies werent there. elder vargon suggested we go ahead and check in our bags and then try to find them. so we went to go get my bags from the baggage hold.... and they told us it was the wrong one and that we needed to go to terminal f. so we went down to terminal f andthe y toldus to go back to terminal d. so we did and they told us to go back to terminal f. so we went back to terminal f and talked to them for a while. we finally figured out we really needed to be at terminal
to be contiued

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

He made it!!

Dear Sister Ellis,

We want you to know that we picked up Elder Ellis late last night at the Samara Airport. He has arrived in our Russia Samara Mission and we are so happy he has come to serve here with us. President Sartori and I are so impressed with this young man. President Sartori interviewed him, and I and others oriented him with some information about Russia.

We believe he is excited to be here and anxious to go right to work. [Sometimes the jet lag has to be dealt with.] Thank you for raising and sharing such a nice young man with us. We are impressed with his common sense, his gentleness, and his humbleness. We feel a great desire from him to serve and fulfill his dream of serving a mission for our Savior.

Attached you will find photos.

President and Sister Sartori
President Russia Samara Mission

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Going to Russia!

So i now have my flight plans! Next Monday morning I get up at 4:00 am and head to the salt lake airport. my flight leaves at 8:44 so I’ll most likely call in this time? I’ll try not to make it too early... maybe around 7:30? I dunno.... I’ll worry more about that next week. I’ll call mom's cell-phone. at 8:44 at fly to JFK in New York, where i have just an hour layover before i board my flight to Moscow at 4:30 pm. from there i have a 16 hour flight? i dunno... time zones... math... not gonna figure it out. but i land in Moscow at 10:10 am on the 12th. I think have a 12 hour layover in moscow airport. at 9:30 i fly on Aeroflot Russian International airline to Samara. Which apparently the amount of baggage i am allowed goes WAY down... something like 44lbs TOTAL. so needless to say i get to pay quite a bit for luggage. I haven’t been told if the church just pays for it, i pay for it and am reimbursed, or if it’s just not covered by the church. I've heard its about $250 for the luggage that i will need in cash. SO if you would mother, please put about $300 in my account so that i can pull it out in cash. i'll probably pull it out on Saturday. If i am reimbursed i will just use that money for a coat when i get there, or if not i'll let you know then how much i need. Oh, i did get my new debit card btw and all is good with that. but yeah.. i land in samara at 11:10 pm. im sure i will be quite tired at that point after 2 days of planes and airports.
So all of that means that today is my last p-day here in the mtc. oh, and i'm calling the mail cut-off right now. if you're sending mail send it to my Russian address now! i have no clue what that is... but i think you do mom? you can continue too send me dear elders until Friday tho.
So yes, today is my last p-day in the mtc... and its a pretty stressful day. This morning we did an endowment session in the Temple, and then also a sealing session. AND the native Russian elders were all late so we had to wait a good hour for them. So our busiest p--day yet, was largely spent in the temple. I'm not complaining, it was perhaps my last chance to go to the Temple for 2 years. It just has made the rest of the day a little stressful. Today i have to write a good amount of letters, get a haircut, PACK, buy some supplies from the bookstore, do laundry, pick up dry cleaning, and a really only have about 3 hours to do all of that! it cant be done. so if some of you that have written don't get a letter this week, i'm sorry! I just want this day to either be A LOT LONGER or just be over.
So the rest of this week has actually been really good though! I stayed awake for all of General Conference! first time ever?? I really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to a prophet of God and His apostles. I especially loved Elder Ucthdorf''s talk on slowing down and worrying less. Something i should re-read today! I'm generally very good at that concept... just not stressing about things but just slowly and diligently doing my best... but today is different. Today is actually the first stressful day of my mission. I guess it actually started last night... which caused me to sleep very poorly.
oh speaking of not enough time to do everything. i need to get off! please e-mail me my Russian address so i can get on and get that later today. i'll only have a minute or so, so i wont write back but i need it!
well, love you! i'll be calling next week!

love, Elder Ellis.

Dustin's new address is now-

Elder Dustin Ellis
Russia Samara Mission
VODNIKOV Street 95-1
Samara oblast 443099

It takes .98 cents in postage to mail a regular letter.(one regular stamp and two postcard stamps do the trick.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


2 day is a day of twos. as of 2-day i have been here for 2 months. In 2 days i will recieve my travel plans, and in 2 weeks i will be leaving for Russia! You all have no clue how ready I am to get to Russia. The MTC is great, and i have really enjoyed my time here, but.... i'm ready to get out of here. Every day is the same. I've basically lived the same week 10 times now. and with in those weeks it seems like i live the same day over and over. Within those weeks i have gained 10 lbs. a pound per week... not bad. actually i checked that about 2 weeks ago, so i might have gained somemore. its not so much that i eat a lot, its just that i sit ALL DAY LONG. i'm in 2nd place in our district in weight gained. Elder Hansen has 12 lbs gained. I hope to pass him up these last two weeks and become champion. And i'm sure it wont take long for me to lose it all once i get to russia. walking all day, with not a lot of time (or money) to eat. not many members to feed the missionaries.... so yeah... i'm not at all concerned about the weight i've gained. if i was going to south america... it would be a different story.
So this last week has been a pretty good one. I'm not fluent in Russians by any means, but i feel as if i have a good enough foundation to build upon. I can't wait to get to russia and to speak like an idiot! :) I've gotten a good amount of mail, thanks to Heather's roomates and friends. But i'm still waiting anxiously for some of MY friends to write more. but yeah, i'm doing well. I did get a little sick the other day... i won't go into much detail... but lets just say Elder Rigby cursed my bowels because i was making fun of his digestive system. His curse worked. But i'm all better now!!!!! Kendra i'll write you the details as long as you promise not to share with many. The rest of you are probably a little weirded out by that.... Kendra and I are very close. hahahaha.
It's starting to get colder here in utah... especially when we have early morning gym or have to wait outside in the sack breakfast line. But.... I've been very good about not complaining. I know its going to be a lot colder in Russia upon my arrival. I will, however, complain about losing my hoodie. it was my grey converse zip up hoodie... i took it off while cleaning bathrooms and forgot it in that building. I checked lost and found, but to no avail. If you find it, (or one JUST like it) please send it to me. I loved that hoodie :(
So a little about the Russians in our room. I like them a lot. A couple nights each week we play uno with them, but in russian. It's rather helpful. i have the numbers 0-9, and the colors red, yellow, green and blue down pretty dang well. Its fun learning words from them and just learning a little more about what its like to be russian. But... its really hard to get them to be exactly obedient. Elder Lantukh really likes to sleep in, and Elder Nalimov really likes to go to bed late. We do what we can to encourage them to go to bed and wake up on time but not having much success. oh well, i'm sure they will learn. untill then we just have to be extra sure to be good examples.
Have I mentioned how ready I am to leave this place and get to russia? I do know that i will be flying with 2 of the natives to samara. Elder Maximov and Sister........ something. I hope i get better at remembering names. That has always been a struggle for me. Katy Cunningham sure knows that.....
Well i'm going to wrap this up. There's really not much else to talk about.... and i'm running out of time.
I love you all! and hope you are doing well!

Elder Ellis

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good Friends...

Hello friends and family!
So... I've done a really bad job at writing down thing that i want to share with you this week... so i'm pretty much just going to have to try and remember as much as i can.
We got our roomates! Elders Nalimov and Lantukh. We are trying to get them in habit of waking up on time and going to bed early. They are getting better. But yeah, we have to be extra careful to be exactly obedient as our we will lead them by our examples. I really enjoy having them in our room. for one, the room is warmer with 4 people instead of two. That being said it doesnt smell as good... but it's not horrible. Elder Rigby and i have really enjoyed getting to know them this last week. we've had a lot of fun and they've taught us some russian phrases. some of them they probably shouldn't have, but its ok because i don't remember them anyway. I've learned that i'm really not very good at memorizing russian words. I'm to the point where i can say pretty much anything i feel like... just with poor grammar and simple words. I also speak rather slowly... but i kinda do that in english too. understanding natives speak the language... that will take some time.
So, i realized yesterday one of the blessings of being on a mission. i call it the beard blessing. yesterday, i forgot to shave. When i got to class i felt my face and realized this. after just one day it had come in pretty well... atleast a lot better that it has ever before. I believe that is one reason why we are to shave everyday... just so when we get off our missions we can grow sweet beards with little effort. I'm looking forward to it :)
So, i've recently been reading in 1 nephi in the Book of Mormon... i've never noticed how many principles are contained just within the first 30 or so pages. Just within the first 30 pages I have learned a lot and really strengthed my testimony in Jesus Christ and His atonement. Having the time to study and read from the scriptures, particualarily the Book of Mormon has been such a blessing. I'm really not much of a reader at all... but I do love reading that book. It really helps me to have a much better attitude about things and i enjoy life a lot more. Which is good... because this MTC place is getting kinda old. 8 weeks? Just short of 2 months? I mean, this place is amazing and i enjoy being here... but i'm going a little crazy. I just want to get to russia. but with that being said i know there is a TON more that i can learn while i am here.
Alright so i'll tell you about my best friend. I'm not sure if i mentioned my bear named smelly last week. I believe mom made him for kendra's sock monkey? well... i have him now, and he goes everywhere with me in my pocket. 'smelly' in russian means courageous. when i can finally get around to sending out pictures you will see that smelly makes it into almost all of my pictures. that is, if its not a picture with JUST smelly. but anyways my other good friend is Elder Perry. I think its very appropriate that Last name is Perry and mine is Ellis. Perry Ellis... i believe that's a clothing line. well anyway Elder Perry happens to be nephew to brother and sister johnson that own horseshoe canyon ranch down in arkansas. They are in our stake and were in the young men's / young women's presidency when i was called as a member of the YAC. youth advisery committee. which by the way... i never got my shirt for... and i'm still not happy about it. But i became good friends with them... and behold, (comonly used in the russian language) here there nephew is in my district. he actually worked at horseshoe last summer and plans to after the mission. so i have found a buddy to go canoeing with on the buffalo river in two years. We get along smashingly and have quite the same sense of humor and personality. I believe him, owen, and i will make a force to be reckoned with. unfortunately, he is serving in ukraine. so i wont see much of him until after the mission.
well... That's about all i can think of this week... and i'm quickly running out of time. so i will make and end to my writings.
oh wait... everyone keeps saying i've changed. I'm not sure i agree. i'm still the same old dustin... just i'm focused differently.
well, love you all!

love, Elder Ellis

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Speaking Russian!

Well hello!
No problems with the computers this week, so this will hopefully be a longer e-mail. Well, actually i had to reply to my mission president about if i had recieved a letter or something, so that took a little time.
Well lets see... this last week started off with TRC on wednesday. This is where we practice teaching lessons to volunteers. Well last week again was all in russian, and well.... I don't know that much russian. To make things worse, one of the volunteers we were teaching was a girl that's a native russian.... so she spoke SUPER fast. Many times she would say something and we would look to the return missionary to translate from FAST NATIVE russian into SLOW MISSIONARY russian. lol. She also asked some pretty difficult questions. I remember sitting there thinking, "i'm not even sure I know how to answer that question effectively in english... but in RUSSIAN?!?!" so I said a little silent prayer to be able to answer the question, and then starting speaking. And well, I was definitely helped! That stood as a testimony to me that this is the Lord's work and He is willing to help us out. A point I am very happy about!
Also on wednesday the new districts came in. 3 of them are going to Samara as well, but I havent met any of those 3 yet (they are in another zone that we dont see very much) The first day or two with the new district was pretty nice, It was nice to feel like I knew a lot more than others... but then after a couple days we figured out that most of them have some sort of background speaking the language... whether they lived in russia, taught english classes to russians, or just took several semesters of russian at college. So I was again humbled.
I also finally saw Garon! I've seen him a couple times since as well, mainly on sundays when we watch movies (such as Finding Faith In Christ, Mountain of the Lord, The Testiment, Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration) I'm still hoping one sunday we can watch some disney movies... lol.
Lets see... its hard to think of things to say... pretty much everday is the same now... so you've pretty much heard it all before. Oh... its starting to get cold in the mornings (outside, not just in our rooms) So when we have gym in the mornings the sand is SOOOOOO cold on my bare feet. I'm dreading the day they close the field due to coldness... we're cooped up inside WAY too much! I live for the outside world! Speaking of Cold... our room. The first week we got here the temperature in our room was 67 degrees. each week its slowly been making its way down... and we finally hit a record low or 62.3 degrees. we both have two blankets, and i ofter sleep in my fleece footie pajamas... and still wake up cold. Finally we got a good idea on saturday night and put a blanket over the vents in our room. Well, it's working and the room was back up to 66 degrees last night! So i've actually been sleeping quite well! Bad news tho.... we're getting roomates. which means the blanket will come off of the vent, and we will also have to give up our extra blankets. They come today. we also had to consolidate all our stuff in to one closet each. we got really used to our lifes of "luxury" with a closet ofr our clean clothes and one for our dirty clothes... but that all comes to an end today. also instead of having a whole desk to myself, i know only have half.
The neat thing is that our roomates are native russians! which means, i'm going to be forced to talk in russian more often, so i see it as a great opportunity for me to learn and improve. My russian is... tak u tak. or so - so. I can communicate about 85% of everything that i want to say at this point. that doesnt mean i'm using proper grammar, or even the words i would like to say... just getting 85% of my points across. So i am getting better :)
This wednesday we teach again in the TRC, but this time we are teaching the Plan of Salvation in all russian. This message is a lot harder to teach in russian as many of the key words are quite lengthy. Just gotta practice a lot and pray a lot and i'll be ok! Also my study habits are getting a LOT better so russian is starting to come a little easier. still not easy, just not as hard.
OH! Yesterday i got 2 postcards and 2 letters! hopefully my mail drought is over? that was a record for me... but elder hagee got 12 yesterday... soo i'm losing this game. lend me some help? write?
well that's about all the time i have this week! I love you all and miss ya!

Elder Ellis

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Halfway there!

Hello Everybody!
6 weeks down... 6 to go. and then RUSSIA!
I've heard two things about Russian missionaries and having to spend 12 weeks in the MTC. i've heard that 12 weeks here really matures a missionary and allows them to grow up. I've also heard it makes you crazy and the Russian elders are some of the craziest in the MTC. Well, 6 weeks into it... i'm going to have to side with both view points. I've definitely grown a ton in the time i have been here. I feel as though my priorities have been ironed out pretty well. Some of my favorite things are listening to devotionals from leaders of the church, teaching in the TRC, and attending the temple each week. With that being said, some of my other favorite things to do are smash talking everyone on the volleyball courts, acting like a zombie and attacking other elders in the residence halls, and playing with all the toys kendra has sent me. The older district especially loved it when i acted like a zombie. They all agreed I should have gotten here 6 weeks earlier because i would fit in with their district so much better than mine. I agree with them. But alas, they have all left now. we're the older district, and we're getting new missionaries tomorrow.
im pretty excited about the new missionaries we will be getting. we have a few from germany and japan (it would suck to learn a 3rd language in your 2nd language... its hard enough in your first language!) and of all these new missionaries THREE are going to Samara!!!!!! So far i've been the only one going to Samara (wait... elder rosell went there like 3 weeks ago) but anyway i'm way excited for my Samara buddies! Elders Behr, and Morris, and Sister Wilson.
Lets see... oh, i've heard rumor that i'm homesick... and well that's not really true. sorry to anyone that I may have worried. I do enjoy being here a lot! that being said i do miss people from home (especially in this mail drought i've been experiencing lately) and i am very ready to get to russia. But yeah, really happy. My companion and I get along really well now, Russian makes sense (still cant really speak it.. but I understand HOW to), and i have so much junk food and candy (when the older district left they had to lighten their bags... so they left all there food in the free bin... and well, i was first to see it all and so i pretty much took everything i like) so i dont really need treats.... unless you really want to... i wont complain. but i would love more mail! I'm very greedy when it comes to mail... i love it. even if its short, just write! and write often! The other elders are starting to wonder if anybody loves me (ok... not true... but still... i want more!)
Oh, but don't write about your vacation to disney land... Mother. however, do send me something awesome from disney land (which means more than a postcard... but i want a post card too)
Oh i finally broke out my brown suit today! i hated how my shoes matched with it, so i haven't worn it yet... but i fixed it. I got some leather dye and dyed them a darker brown. They're not quite to where i want them to be, but hey... i've got time! untill then they are good enough to wear :)
so with the commencement of this, my second half of my MTC experience, we have begun to do most everything in russian. Each wednesday when we practice teaching in the TRC it now has to be all in russian. Last week was the same and we taught the message of the restoration. it went pretty well. Before hand i was pretty nervous about it because i couldnt really remember all that russian that i had been practicing. so i said a prayer for the spirit to guide fme and to bring to rememberence the things that i had studied. I then went in there with faith that i would do well. When we got in there we soon found out that the 4 return missionaries we weree practicing on were actually Ukrainian speaking. Ukrainian is to Russian as Portuguese is to Spanish... but a little bit more of a difference. BUT even though they werent even speaking russian i was able to pretty much understand the things they were saying, AND i remembered everything i had worked on... even the things i really hadnt studied much at all. It was such a testimony to me that this really is the Lord's work and He is more than willing to help me out in it. As Sister Gonzalez said "Don't think about what you can't do. This work isn't about you. It is His work. Believe in Him, believe that He will do miracles through you" I know that this is His work and that it is very important for me to be here doing this.
well thats all the time we have this week. tune in next week!
love you all!

Love, Elder Ellis

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marshmallows and Russians

Hello again!

so this e-mail might be a little shorter because it took it over 10 minutes to log in today... very frustrating.

I'll start off by saying thank you for the cat posters! I LOVE THEM. They are hanging on my wall in our room, much to the disapproval of Elder Rigby. haha. Elder Rigby and I actually get along just fine now. We work well together and I actually enjoy his company. He's still not one of my FAVORITE people, but hey it'll do. So I've been here for over a month now. sooooo long. and yet it really doesnt seem that long. its the weird mission time warp thing going on. this week the older district is starting to trickle out. a few of them are still here, but they will all be gone by friday. Elder Mills and Hagee were made zone leaders and Elder Rhodes district leader. I was very happy on sunday when i realized i had not been interviewed. Also to clear up another couple of concerns, my leg is doing just fine. nothing wrong with it anymore aside from some pretty sweet scars.

We get our mail everyday before lunch and after dinner. we're not allowed to read our mail until after we are back in our rooms at 9:30 each night, and then we are only allowed to write home on tuesdays. so... a lot of times i will forget some of the things that you all write by the time i write back. so if something is important that needs to be answered, just keep writing it! Mom, you've done a really good job of that... haha.

Funny story. The other night i was sitting there eating my huge marshmellows that kendra sent me, and one of the native russians walked in. he didn't really know what it was so i let him have one. HE LOVED IT. so i went around and gave all the native russians some of my marshmallows. they were all amazed and loved them. apparently they dont have marshmallows in russia. I've had a lot of fun getting to know some of these russians and struggling to communicate with them. Speaking of communicating in russian, tomorrow we have to teach the message of the restoration all in russian! eeeekk! so i've been working and praying really hard for some help in that... i'm not too nervous, but i'm not too confident either.

so far we have had to spend 2 full days speaking only in russian. did.... alright... it was a pretty quiet day. one of those days i was playing volleyball and was lined up against elder james. i call him elder lebron james because he is about quite tall, quite big, and quite black. someone set it to him and he went to spike it on me... and i blocked the crap out of it. so i continued to yell "He B Moem gome" which means "NOT IN MY HOUSE!!!!" oh the good things i can learn russian for.

real quick spiritual thought since i am quickly running out of time. (though i should have 10 more minutes.. urg)

last tuesday Elder Jeffery R. Holland came and talked to us. it was the first time since i've been here they've had us all together in the gym for devotional, and it was quite a good one. he talked about not wasting time on our mission because it really is the Lord's work and His mission. The coolest thing was just being in the same room as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. A strong testimony builder for sure.

well 30 secs left. thanks to everyone who keeps mailing me! mail is the BEST thing.. keep it coming

love you all

love elder ellis

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Best and Worst of the MTC


This past week has FLOWN by. it seems like a day or two ago that i was in here typing my fingers off... and here i am again! with that being said, so much has happened this last week. Many of you have asked about the best and worst parts of the MTC. There are several best parts: sunday devotionals, tutor sessions where everything just clicks, getting to write home on tuesdays, dominating in four square and volleyball (thanks for the headband by the way!!!!) and the list could go on and on. the worst part is not seeing familiar faces. Sadly both elder barnes and elder wachob left this week :( but luckily sister whitney ward is now here and elder brett is coming!!!! i'm ver excited for his arrival. also i have found familiar faces in people that i don't actually know. our district leader elder mills looks and kinda acts like owen... only shorter and not as smart. i've also found an adam johnson.... only uglier. one of our teachers, sister pico, is pretty much just an older version of kaytlin knudsen. and a sister from the other district reminds me a lot of paige miley... only she's a harvard grad. actually the worst part about the mtc is the lack of hugs. i love hugs.

From hearing about the weather back home i have become very grateful to be here in provo. the weather has been amazing! my companion who is from utah is always complaining about the heat... but i really have no clue what he is talking about. he should just wait til he gets to rostov (its right on the black sea in south russia... its very humid there and get up to 110 in the summer.) my mission i've heard, not very humid at all and only get up to mid 80s usually. though, my winters will be much worse than his... so.... but that's alright :)

So every wednesday we have whats is called TRC or Teaching R-something Center. its been kinda intimidating going to these as we have to do a 15 minute task in russian and then teach a lesson to a volunteer. last week i was especially worried about it as i could not seem to remember any of the russian i had practiced for that task. the morning of i prayed for help, and then just had faith throughout the day that it would go well. even right up until the appointment i couldn't really remember anything, but i was still faithful that it would go well... and it did! luckily Sister Gonzalez (wife of Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the seventy) spoke to us the night before about having faith and such in our work. she told us "Don't think about what you don't know. This work is not about you, It is the Lord's work... Be humble but believe in him. Believe that he will perform miracles through you." That gave me a lot of confidence and faith, and so i was able to experiment on her words and found them to be true.

Since then I've not really worried about what to say in lessons or even how well i am learning the language. If the Lord needs me to speak russian to his children, i will speak russian. He's pretty powerful. Since i have stopped worrying so much i have been much happier and the language has come a lot easier for me. I now pretty much understand most the grammar rules and can make my own sentences pretty easily... if i had the vocabulary. working on that. the hard thing about russian is that 1. its a different alphabet 2. EVERY word is conjugated! 3. you dont speak exactly how you would in english... you have to mix up the words you use a lot of the times. for example instead of saying "i have a cat" you have to say "at me (dative case) exists cat (accussitive case)" or "oo menya yest kashka" that's at least the english alphabet version.

other fun stories... im sure most of you know john heder from napolean dynamite (the main character).... but i'm sure most of you didn't know that he is the son in law to a counselor in my district presidency. so sunday he attended our sacrament meeting and ate lunch with us. so that was pretty cool... except for the fact there were elder flocking towards us to try to talk to him.

another fun story if i can get it off in time. kendra sent me a package. in this package she sent me a cell phone. the cell phone is old, doesnt work and didnt have a battery. but i decided that i would carry it around in my pocket and pull it our every once in a while to "text my girlfriend" of course this kinda freaks out some of the other elders. Elder King and Elder Seitz were particularly concerned about this. they are good friends with my companion (who was in on the joke of course) and they feared that both me and my companion might get sent home if the sin continued. so last night they decided to have and intervention. they came to our room and asked about the phone. my companion told them that it was a go-phone from my girlfriend. they continued to tell me that i needed to send it home, to which i told them it was really none of there business and got really defensive about it. the zone leader came in and got in on it too. finally we couldnt keep straight faces anymore and told them the truth. it was rather funny. well i got 20 seconds left so goodbye! i love you all and hope all is well!

WRITE ME LETTERS!!!! especially those of you i have not heard from

love elder ellis

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hey Hey

Another week in the MTC. 3 down, 9ish to go. pray for me! haha! Let's see... i'll start off by answering a few questions.

my leg is doing just fine. it turned out to be a boil... i've never had one of those before? so that was a new, gross experience.

Yes, my sleeping schedule is doing fine. No, I am not sleeping wonderfully. apparently NOBODY sleeps well in the MTC. I havent been able to sleep through an entire night without waking up yet, and niether has anyone in my district. also its a little hard to get to sleep at night. funny how i can sit in class all day fighting just to keep my eyes open, and then at the end of the day when i lay down beneath the stars (glow in the dark) i am exhausted.... and yet i lay awake. finally i fall asleep, and wake up several times during the night. one night i woke up shivering violently. i grabbed another blanket (we have extra since there are only 2 of us in a 4 person room) but that didnt seem to help much. finally i got up and went and put on my dino footie pajamas. THOSE HAVE BEEN A LIFESAVER! THANK YOU AMBER! um.... i dont remember any other questions and i dont have time to look.... so let me know if i missed anything. Also, if you have any questions about anything i will be happy to answer. yes, That includes you Mom. Answering a pestering amount of questions isnt so bad when i'm not "stuck" with you. plus, i only have to respond to the ones i feel like... and there is NOTHING you can do about it. aside from call my branch or mission president and have them lecture me. haha.

lets see... some cool things that happened this last week. Elder Evans of the 70 gave a WONDERFUL talk on the Book of Mormon last week. Did you know there's a lot of really interesting and profound stuff in there? and just in the first couple verses?! it talks about the importance of families, being taught righteously in the home, how God chastens those who he loves, the importance of prophets, and so much more. just on the first page! I never really noticed that before. His talk was AMAZING and brought such a strong testimony that he is truely called of God, that the Book of Mormon is truely the word of God along with the Bible. I wish everyone could come to the MTC to hear some of these devotionals. then again... some are better left unheard... haha. yesterday Thomas Durham gave a talk about the hymn that he wrote in the hymnal.... quite possibly the worst talk i have ever heard. Basically he boasted of his family history as hymn composers, carried on with a lot of musician terms that only those with PHD would know, and talked some more about how great he was. However, you really can learn from ANYONE if you are listening through the spirit. and I did.

Oh, so dad. on thursdays we have to clean our classrooms at night. and well, its both a blessing and a curse to be your son. I definitely have your perfectionist gene. that combined with my experiences cleaning the church building all those times... not good. and yet good at the same time. basically without me our district would get a horrible review everytime. I try to say that with humility. it's true though.

So one thing i have learned these last couple weeks is that i really need a woman in my life to take care of me.... mom, do you have any magic stain remover you can send me? tide to go doesn't quite do the job. I'm really not that messy... in fact none of the stains are from any food that i've eaten. I just always find food smeared in random places in the cafeteria that one would not expect. i hate OTHER peoples food ending up staining MY shirts. heres a few other things i need/ want:

NIKE HEADBAND preferably red with a white symbol. i need to step up my game in SUPER SMASH BALL (like four square, but with 9-10 sections that arent squares formed by cracks in the parking lot, and just a lot more intense) and volley ball. also maybe some tall athletic socks. basically i need to look awesome to play awesome. you could prob find one at nike.

RUSSIAN POCKET DICTIONARY. the ones they gave us are crap. the little red one i left at home is apparently a really good one to use.

APPLE RINGS - i love those

DUCT TAPE - i have need for this

My companion and i are getting along much better now. we work rather well together. infact, our district leader Elder Mills (short owen) said that he thinks we will be zone leaders here next week or so because we are spiritual giants. not sure if i a gree with him, but that was an awesome compliment to recieve from someone i respect. but yes, Elder Rigby and are a getting a long much better. I wouldn't say that i really like him too much.... but that doesn't mean i can't get along with him and work well with him and learn a lot from my experience with him.

Well i'm quickly running out of time. i hope everyone is doing AMAZINGLY. most of you i don't really know about since i've not received letters from the vast majority. letters help keep me sane people!

well love you all! hope to hear from you soon! do good things and keep me in mind


Elder Dustin Wayne Ellis

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2 Down, 10 To Go

Hello all!

so.... apparently i have a new e-mail account? um... at least thats what it said as i signed in? so if any of you sent e-mails to me this past week... i didn't get them. and well none of you probably should have if you got my e-mail last week saying not to e-mail due to lack of precious e-mail time. Remember to use :)

So another week down in the MTC... 10 to go. goodness gracious. Time in the MTC is such a strange thing. Things that happened this morning seem like they occured a week ago, Things that happened a week ago seem as if they happened only yesterday, and it has felt like i have been in here for months now... yet days at the same time. Through out my stay here at the MTC i have found some funny quirks. First off, sickness spreads like wildfire. One person in our district got a minor cold, and suddenly we are all using tissues like they are going out of style. The only thing that spreads faster than sickness is a song. if you start to hum or whistle or sing a song... within minutes someone will pass by you singing the same song coming from the opposite side of the campus. Now... the MTC is definitely hard work. The days are busy, and so much is being crammed into my tiny brain. ughh... these elders in here are being quite loud and i cant think what to write. um.... lets see... sundays are by far the best days. i thought that p-day would be my favorite days, but i have learned that it is exactly as it is called: a day to prepare. these days are crazy and i hardly have any time to write. sundays are as they are set to be: a day of rest. by rest i merely mean that they are less busy than all the other days. but boy are they still busy! throughout the rest of the week the only thing that seems to keep me sane is sand volley ball and letters. yes, i am becoming quite the avid sand volleyball player... despite my lack of depth perception. i'm getting pretty dang good... and i've only been hit in the face with the ball once or twice due to my vision. its all good. speaking of injuries, i have obtained one. its a really sore red area next to my gash on my shin. i have concluded that it is either a spider bite, a boil, or my wound has become infected.... if its not better by thursday i'm going to go see Sis. Johnson in the medical place (Who i met one of my first days here and we talked quite a bit about owen and his shoulder). lets see.... oh i LOVE seeing familiar faces! its a strange sight to a missionary not from utah. on daniels first morning here i saw him and jason wachob talking and i ran to give them both a huge group hug. then i scurried off to class. this morning i was able to stand with daniel in the breakfast line for a good half hour and talk to him. it was rather nice.... though he made me feel foolish with russian. Russian is coming along.... but boy is it hard. so much so fast. I know i will get it, but only through the Lord's help. I know how to pray, read for pronounciation, bear testimony, introduce myself and tell a little about me, and our district memorized joseph's smiths first vision in 3 days.... a new russian record. Oh the native russian missionaries arrived! I love talking to them... but again, i feel so foolish as i can usually only understand a few phrases. one of the sisters is from a town in the samara mission! maybe i will get to meet her family as she serves in ukraine. from what conversations i have had with them, i have grown to find out that they all love the cartoon "Cat Dog" Bahahahaha! they spent several minutes trying their hardest to talk about it in english with me. the world is a small place i guess? Today we were able to go with them to the temple for them to take out their own endowments... such a neat experience.

another way that i have kept myself entertained is by my color matching. as many of you know, i have 5 colorful watches with matching ties, red orange yellow green and blue. i've not deviated from wearing those 5 ties. i've also added some black socks with color heels and toes, and a matching pen in my pocket daily. i only lack yellow socks and a yellow pen :\ i think i can find a yellow pen in the bookstore, but i might need some help on the socks. ill send home the extra pair sometime so you can have a reference of whaty to get. or i might just take a picture and send that with a letter. speaking of letters, i would like to thank Kendra, Lisa, Mama, Grandma, and Lauren for all sending me letters or packages. They help to keep me sane. the rest of you.... well.... improve. remember how easy is! oh and if you didn't know my estimated departure date is OCT 12... so kendra hurry up and have that baby! My room now feels a little more like home now that i have some decorations in it. thank you kendra. dinosaur pictures, colorful things, and my favorite: glow in the dark stars above my bed.

well time is quickly running out. so i must make ends to this letter. I hope you're getting these? mom, you didnt comment much on this so im a little unsure... but lisa mentioned it i think so you must be.

i hope all is well with everyone. keep in touch. im praying for you. know that i am happy to be here.

hopefully next week's letter will be a little better. love you all!


Elder Dustin Ellis

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Made It!!!


I am SO glad that it is finally p-day so that i can write home! I hope all is going well there! I don't have much time to write (i spent a good portion of my alotted 30 mins on setting up my e-mail account since I did not know to do this before arriving... bleh) So this e-mail is probably going to be a little bit shorter than i would have liked.

So, I made it!!!! YAY!!!!! Be proud of me!!! I am so far LOVING the MTC. The spirit is so strong here and i have learned so much so quickly! I now know how to bear my testimony, pray, introduce myself as a missionary of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tell them about my message, Ask if, when and where we can meet and a few other words and phrases. I haven't prayed in english since saturday. My MTC companion is Elder Rigby... like the town in Idaho. He's a pretty neat missionary.... we are working hard on being a unified companionship and seeing the good in each other. Did i mention that we are working HARD at it? So as far as living with him thus far its not been a great experience.. but I'm sure i will grow to love him. This past sunday was fast sunday and i felt as if as senior companion i needed to fast for this purpose. Things are already getting better as I strive to serve him as much as possible. I know that as I serve him i will grow to appreciate him as a servant of God. I need to serve him a lot. haha. Its also hard because we are the only companionship in our room. Most rooms have 2 sets of companionships and so a total of 4 people.

My district is a pretty awesome district. there are 9 of us all together, 7 of those Elders are going to Ukraine - Russian Speaking, and Elder Rigby is going to the Rustof Mission in Russia. It's also in south western russia... down by georgia. So yes, I am the only missionary in the MTC right now that is going to my mission. That'll be interesting. Our whole district is super fast at learning the language. There is another district of Russian speakers who got here the same time as we did, and every time we talk to them about what we have learned it blows them away. I am greatful to be in such a great District.

This first week has been pretty hectic. My e-mail wasn't set up, I've had problems logging into to our language assistance program, and i forgot my pants at home. Mother, I got your letter and I just figured out I got a package... My Pants I pressume? I'll figure out here soon. Also, I have quite the list of things that I am needing from home, so i will be sending you a letter here soon with a list of things i need. oh and also go onto my bank account and change the text message service over to your phone number so you will know when I spend too much!

Like i said, I LOVE THE MTC! I've learned so much and the spirit here is so strong. Sure, its hard being with a new person and not having anyone here that gets me. I need my companion to be Elder Owen Allphin :( I know that we would work so well together and would take things much more seriously than my companion does. He will learn. Today I went to the temple and it was pretty neat being in there with a buttload of missionaries. I look forward to going back each tuesday morning. Oh, if you haven't figured it out by now, my P-days here are on Tuesdays.

If you could, Please respond via That will give me more time to read what you have to say as 30 mins goes SUPER fast! i want to spend all that time on writing, and not having to read e-mails. Once i leave the MTC I would LOVE e-mails tho. Mom, tell everyone the info they need for dearelder as I am not going to spend time to look it up right now. I'll be writing some letters later on today. I have many people i want to write to, so if you don't get an letter this week hang in there! Well time is running out quickly!!!! gottta go!

I love you all and pray for you ALL THE TIME.

much love,

Elder Ellis

send love back!