Monday, March 28, 2011


I’ve been very busy today packing my bags and leaving notes for other elders, because both me and my companion have been transferred. I don’t like change… it stresses me out. But, I think this will be a good one. The new area I’ll be working in is the city of Kazan. I’m not there yet, I’ll get there on Wednesday, so I don’t know a lot about the area yet. From what I’ve heard:
Kazan is a city a little bit bigger than Samara on the North end of the mission (about 7 hours north by bus) It’s both bigger in size and population. The majority of the population is muslim. The area only has 2 sets of missionaries. Should be a lot of work to do there.
Up until recently the area hasn’t been open for American missionaries. Ukranians and Russians only. So… I’m a little excited to go there. other missionaries are a little bit jealous. I’ll be serving with a Russian elder, Elder koozmen. I hope this helps my language out a great deal.
well… I’m out of time. I’ll let you know more about my new area next week when I get there!
Elder Ellis

Monday, March 21, 2011

the REAL first day of spring...

Well hello!
this will be a shorter e-mail as my mother demanded i send her a personal e-mail... so i have little time.
Yes, today is the actual frist day of spring. I just bought me a lighter coat for the occassion. I hate the markets... i'm the kind of shopper that doesnt like people to help. I like to think a lot and i don't like to be pressured into things. But in the reenok (market) they attack me like a hoard of wild russian boars. those things are deadly. only most of them are from vietnam or kazakstan or some other countries. the worst part is they all notice my bad speach and heavy accent and go "oh american!" and then lead me to all of their most expensive things. they don't realize just because i'm an american in a suit doesn't mean i have a lot of money.
The weather has been warming up. snow had started to melt this week. Everything is muddy puddles and slush and more snow. but its also continued to snow. Spring here is nothing like spring at home.
The work has been slow, and we've had a lot of distractions. (we had to spend 3 days deep cleaning an apartment that we're no longer renting... the worst part is that we then had to return to our dirty apartment after 3 days of cleaning)
But, i believe the work should pick up in about a week or so. we've done a lot of finding... just not a lot of teaching.
well thats really all the time i have.
i did get 2 packages this week. 1 from GRANDmother and one from David and Marci. Thank you very much. Letters will be sent to you soon!
well i love you all!
Elder Ellis

Monday, March 14, 2011

Talking to women...

Well hello!
Talking to women is not very fun.
My least favorite part is when I talk to an unattractive young woman that you can tell thinks she is VERY attractive. When she rejects me, my self confidence goes down.
Other than that, this week has been pretty… fast.
Tuesday I got the flu. Well… last Sunday I got the flu. But it finally convinced me to give in to it on Tuesday. It wasn’t a throw up flu. Just a “my body aches, and I cant stop coughing” flu. Apparently its going around the mission quite quickly. The Russian word for flu is “GREEP” and so it’s been said that “Satan has really got a GREEP on the mission right now” ha ha ha.
The good news is that I am pretty much better from it now. Most everyone that has gotten it had to stay home for a couple days with it. I’m “lucky” and only had to stay home one day with it. The next day I might have stayed home with it, but I had to get on a plane to Vilnius again. Yup… I was the jerk on the plane that probably got everybody else sick. Especially since one of the planes is a small Russian double propeller plane. Despite my sickness and the stress of passport control and short layovers I had a good time though. Every plane ride on UTair you get a meal  even the hour long flight from Moscow to Samara. I guess you can say I eat pretty poorly when Russian Airline food is the best meal I’ve had all year.
One funny story from trip. There were 5 of us in our group. All American elders. And in the morning on the way to the airport president gave us a little motivation to talk to women… called a lecture.
So as we sat down for our LOONG layover in Moscow on the return home, a rather good looking girl sat down next to Elder Derby. Being the boys we all are, we started to tease him so he would talk to her. Well he eventually did and we were all having a really good time commenting on the contact. Soon enough 2 of the elders lost their seats (bathroom trip) and returned to sit by a lady in her 40’s. Elder Smith started talking to her, and we started talking about their conversation as well. Pretty soon Elder Walton joined in the fun and started talking to someone too. I had a few comments on that conversation as well. It was at this point that I realized my immaturity and said to elder Swainston “you know… I’ve been sitting here commenting on all of these conversations, when I should just be talking to someone myself.” The second the words came out of my mouth a man sat down next to me. Elder Swainston then looked at me and said “Oh look! The Lord has sent you an opportunity to repent!”
Dang it. After I stopped myself from laughing I talked to the man. Had a good little conversation with him until he said “oh my flight is leaving, I got to go!” half an hour later we found the same man sitting down stairs reading the newspaper.
Well, I am going to wrap this up. I’m going to buy a lighter coat today because I’m starting to get hot in the one that I have. Temperature here is getting up to 1 or 2 degrees celcius during the day. -7 at night.
Oh, our investigator that has to wait to get baptized…. 1 year, 8 months. Dang. He wont even get baptized while I’m still in Russia.
Well, Love you all!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, March 7, 2011

March came in like a lion...

Well hello all!
It’s been a good week full of lots of changes, stories, and things to tell about.
I’ll start out about telling you about the last transfer. I’m still in Novo-k with the same companion, but our sisters are gone! I put in a few requests to the Lord for him to help us find some more people to teach… and well I could almost hear his voice saying “Fine… YOU asked for it.” Not exactly the help that I was expecting.
But now we have the whole city of Novo-k and the outlying area to ourselves. I believe that means we should become a lot busier in the next little while. It’s a good thing. A busy missionary is a happy missionary, but so much for my lift of confidence for being able to speak Russian better than someone. It’s just me and my Ukrainian companion now.
We seem to be having a little success. The man we found last week has a baptismal date for this Saturday! He believes, he has desire, he’s humble, but he’s on parole. Dang. So apparently we have to wait until after his parole is up to get him baptized. So… maybe by the end of my mission?
We also had a former investigator show up to church this last week. He expressed that he believes the Book of Mormon to be true because the Bible and the Book of Mormon fulfill each others’ words. He has desire to get baptized but doesn’t feel quite ready. He also has a wound in his stomach from a bad surgery he had, and isn’t quite sure it can be under water. My suggestion is serane wrap.
We helped someone move this week… that wasn’t fun. 2 floors down and 3 floor back up. Big furniture… tiny stairwells. I had always wondered how they got all that big furniture up the tiny stairwells to the 9th floor of a building. Now I know… very carefully. Actually… they weren’t careful at all.
We also went to a Russian funeral this last week. At first everyone gathers at the deceased’s apartment and they carry them in a little wooden casket covered in cloth down the stairwell. Much like moving furniture. I hope they did this a little more carefully. Once they get them outside they set the casket on two construction horses and lets everyone have their final glimpse. After 10 minutes or so they they nail up the coffin and put it in the back of a van. Then everyone gets on a bus and they drive 30 minutes out in the country side to a rather large cemetery in the middle of nowhere. They pull the casket out of the van and lower down in the hole. Then everyone takes a few handfuls of dirt and throw in down in the hole. Shortly after the back-hoe comes and finishes the deed. Back on the bus and then they drive to the funeral home for some sort of service. We had a lesson planned so we weren’t able to stay for the service… but I’m sure it was pretty interesting as well.
We also had zone conference this last week. Talked a lot about obedience, obedience, eating healthy, working in unity with your companion and so on. I figured out a lot of things I can do better. It was pretty motivating. Applying it is the hard part.
We also had a rule change. We can now talk to women. Which means the cute girl on the bus. Not only CAN I talk to her, but I SHOULD talk to her. Nice. Actually, it’s really weird and we’re not very good at it. We’ve pretty much only started talking to bobooshki. (grandmas).
Speaking of obedience and women, we’ve been desperately trying to explain to our land lady that she needs a man to come with her when she comes to collect rent. This week is another one of those Russian holidays where everyone eats pancakes, and she told us that her granddaughter was going to come by to fix us pancakes for the celebration. Yikes. We finally got it worked out to where our land lady understands that this is against our rules. I was very relieved that her 18 year old granddaughter wasn’t going to come by to fix us breakfast. I was also a little disappointed…. I like people cooking me pancakes.
Well… I’m going to wrap this up. Quickly.
Love you all!
Elder Ellis