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.)