yes, i have been transferred.
I am now serving in a city called Новокуйбышевск. it is about an hour southwest of samara, and has a population of about 200,000 people. our area is half of the city (sister missionaries have the other half) and we share a suburb. I quite like this area. It's much quiter than living on one of the main streets in south samara, and people seem to be a little nicer here and less afraid to talk to us. The other benefit is that there are a lot of families here. The branch here is much nicer on the inside (the church actually owns a building and remodeled) and there are about as many members that attend (30-40 active). In our area is also the town square where there is a big christmas tree and a very cool slide that i want to go on... (after the slide is about 100 feet of solid ice going across the square.) but... im a missionary.... and there are always about 50 kids playing there all the time. our apartment.... is not as nice as the last one. An old man lived there until he died, and now his daughters rent it out. our last apartment was pretty much an american apartment in russia. this apartment is definitely a old russian man's apartment..... i'm getting used to it. again i got rid of my bed as is it about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. so i sleep on the floor with a foam pad of the same demensions. I've gotten used to my feet hanging off the end a good foot and a half. The computers that we use are in the public library, and its a much nicer place to use the internet than my last area. i plan to get some pictures out soon.
my companion, Elder трохименко (trakhemyenko) is 27 years old and native to kiev, ukraine. so... i know LIVE the culture and not merely IN the culture. I'm trying to get used to that. especially since my last companion elder swaintson was a really good cook and we ate very good american food most days (except for our russian ice cream!) So this last week has not been so nice on my appetite, but i think i'm just going back to what i knew at home... cereal, omlets, french toast, grilled cheese sandwich. the packages that i got have helped out a lot (oh yeah i got 2 packages last sunday jan 2) and i am VERY glad for the extra snack foods from uncle David and Aunt Marci. and i'm very happy for the hot chocolate. i've sent out thank you letters. the pictures you sent werent exactly what i was looking for ( i have a small 3x5 album i show to people, and i just needed some missing pictures...) but nonetheless i was very happy about it. I do have one small suggestion..... next time you send anything that is in powder form (hot chocolate) send it in a large ziplock bag. some of the packages got holes and so everything had a nice dusting of chocolate on it. anyway.... companion. i'm getting used to him. i think. He's not a very healthy person and so its hard to be on time to a lot of things because he has to use the bathroom a lot, and for long periods of time. The language barrier is a little rough on planning... but its getting better. Its been a tough week... but mainly because i just don't like change. but i'm beginning to settle in.
other disappointment of the week.... my inbox was empty... and i am sad that i have nothing to read this next week from friends and family. do better.
I want to tell you about our miracle this week.
On tuesday i was calling through the former investigators in the area book and i was able to set up a meeting with an older couple. Elder Trox. said that they were very stubborn people and that it would probably be ineffective to meet with them. However, I felt that we should go them anyways as i had already set up. well, we went and he was right about them. But, after we walked in the door and got ready to teach there friend came, and she listened in on the lesson as well. They were all three convinced the Bible is the only word of God and that the Book of Mormon cannot be so. We testifyed of the Book of Mormon as also being the word of God and how the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together to testify of Christ and what we must do to follow Him. At the end of the meeting we asked their friend for her contact information but she said just call the former investigators whom we were meeting with. The next day as I was reading my 2 chapters in the Book of Mormon (that we have committed to read in order to help us accomplish our goal of 200 baptisms this year) i came across 1 Nephi 13 :20-41 which talks about the Book of Mormon and how it establishes the truth of the Bible, and i immediately thought of this woman. So that day i called our former investigators to ask if they had read what we had asked (no, they were "too busy") and asked for the woman's number. They didn't give it to me but they did give me her address. So on saturday we made it a back up plan to drop by this womans house to see if she had read. well our plans fell through, as they often do, and we were in the area where she lived so i felt impressed to drop by. When we knocked she answered and invited us in. Because we are not allowed to meet without another man, we asked if there was a man in the house who would like to sit in on the lesson with us. She invited her husband to come in on the lesson, and we realized that we had already talked to this man on the street before. He had showed interest, but we failed to get his contact information. So we taught them about Joseph Smith and how God called him as a prophet in these days to restore the authority needed to lead Christ's church that He established in his life on the earth. It was very hard for the woman to accept much of what we were saying, but her husband defended us, and answered many of her questions. In the end we gave them another copy of the Book of Mormon and committed them to read, ponder, and pray about it with the promise that if they did so than God would help them to know of its truthfulness through the Holy Ghost and their feelings. It was a wonderful lesson and it was a miracle in the way that we were guided to these people. It's a testimony to me that this is really God's work, and that if we are in tune, we can be guided to do the work as He wants.
well, time is up, and i got to go.
i love you all and hope all is well!
love, Elder Ellis