Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Under the Weather...

I found the pictures of the Joplin tornado rather interesting. I heard a little bit about the “tornado in Missouri” from a guy we talked to on the street. But I wasn't expecting it to be that bad. Especially when the number of missing people gets changed from 1500 to 150. I'll make sure to keep my Missourian friends in my prayers this week who have been effected.
In other Missouri news, my zone leader is from Kansas City and knows Garon Brett. We went on exchanges this week and we had a good ol' chat about the plaza in KC and good ol' Branson MO. He was quite pleased as I quoted the words from Fire in the Hole. “Fred flanders, you get back in here and put on ya pants!” “But honey, I ain't got no pants no mo'! The dang balknobbers stol'em!” “STOL'EM?! WHAT IN THE TARNATION WOULD THEY WANT WITH YA PANTS?!?!”
So yes, we had a good exchange. Learned a lot and the work in Novo-K has really started to pick up this week.
We did have a picnic planned for this saturday. But in the morning our branch president called and said it was cancelled due to 'bad weather'... 15-20 degrees C and partly cloudy isn't what I would call 'bad weather'... especially after a Russian winter. So we were a little disappointed, but rather displeased when we got a call from a less-active saying that there was a 2 less active families, 2 of our investigators and a few members all wondering where everyone else was. After that news I was just about ready to go back to bed. I'm a little sick, bad news, and we were supposed to teach on the 3rd hour in church the next day. But, I don't know how to take a sick day. So we went out on the street and actually had some really good success. The Lord blesses us when we choose to do even despite all the 'reasons' we have to Don't.
Other than that day it’s been getting hotter and hotter. We did hit 99 degrees F about a week back. My companion likes to complain about that. He's going to have a rough summer.. even though he's from Kiev where is usually hotter. (it can get up to 110-120 degrees here in the summer... -40 in the winter... 40 in the summer... I like my Missouri weather... but i'm not complaining.)
Other wonderful news! Visa trip this week! (I’m always sick when visa trips come up...) But, I’m going to Kiev this time. Not only to Kiev, but we get to go to the temple! I'm way excited. My companion is way jealous as he has to go to Kazakstan, and can't go to his home town.
Well time up.
I love you!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, May 23, 2011

Same Song, Second verse....

I'm beginning to think that my call letter should have actually read:

Dear Elder Ellis;
You have been called to serve as a missionary in the Russia Samara Mission as an Apartment Cleaner. As such, you will be expected to devote all your heart, might, mind, and strength in cleaning apartments. Etc...

Our Landlady called us up on monday or tuesday and told us that she had sold the apartment. So, we spent a good portion of the week packing, cleaning, and moving apartments. I've had experience with this the last time I was in Novo-k, so this time came a little bit easier. I am becoming quite the expert in closing missionary apartments. It's not a lot of fun cleaning up after years of 19-21 guys living in an apartment. My guess is that i'll get transferred back to Bezimonskii soon as I have heard that the landlady there is also trying to sell that apartment. But before that, i'll most likely get the opportunity again in Novo-K as our lease is only for 1 month, and we are currently searching for somewhere to live.
Other than that we had the opportunity to learn from Elder Seinkins. I believe he's from the area 70... but I'm not really sure. He spoke russian. I was able to stay awake and focus for the majority of his talk while he was here in samara. The main thing that I understood and learned was when he spoke about laws and commandments. He spoke about the Law of Gravity. The Law of Gravity exists. There's not much we can do to change this. Some people may think they don't need this law, and then they often find themselves asking “why do I keep falling down?” Others know of the law, but only see it as something that holds us down. We can't achieve great heights while we have this law working against us. But, there are those who cherish the law. They learn all the can about the law and see how it helps us in our lives. These are the only people that can learn how to fly.
Likewise we have commandments. Many see commandments as inhibitors of our freedom to choose. But, only when we learn and live by the laws can we become our full potential. Anyway... it was interesting.
That's about all the 'exciting' things that happened this. Atleast that I can remember. I find that I'm always tired. I fall asleep quite often. I fall asleep while studying, any BUMPY transports we take, church meetings on Sundays, and even on a lesson once in a while. I sleep wonderfully at night. I probably just need to eat more fruits and vegies. But... for that we need money. Which we don't have at the end of the month. But, my companion did buy some awesome, expensive dish soap from an investigator! So now all of our dishes can be cleaned... we just don't have food to dirty them up. Wise decision there. I thought we were supposed to be 'selling' the gospel... not buying things of the world.
Well outta time! I love you!
Elder Ellis

Monday, May 16, 2011


Sorry this is going to be a really short e-mail.
Computers hate us today, and we've had a long day of trying to find a place with working internet.
I'm doing pretty well, just trying to get used to the 'new' area. and the 'new' companion.
we had a baptism this past week. I found him when i was here last, but didn't get the chance to teach him.
I was just the book ends.
well... i love you
love, Elder Ellis

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Russian Holiday Quarantine...

Hello family!
It was good to get to talk to you all on Saturday! (except Kortney, Ben, Kennady, Clark, and Owen.) And I hope you all enjoyed your fun time canoeing. I’m jealous. But, I’m glad that I got to delay you for a little while :P
Happy Mothers Day again. I love you. You’re my favorite mother!
It’s been a crazy (and somewhat fun… FUN? Wait… I thought men couldn’t have fun….) couple of weeks.
Back in Kazan we had branch picnic for the 1st of May… it’s a holiday apparently. Good time filled different team competitions. My team won every game. Much to the dismay of Elder wood who was on the other team. I didn’t even have to argue over the rules… we just simply dominated. 2 of our investigators showed up and had a good time with all the members. I can tell I’ll be missed in kazan. The man we baptized said he’ll keep praying that I get sent back there by the end of the mission, I encouraged him to pray on! Our newly found investigator (who is golden) also said she would miss me and even tried to give me a hug. She hasn’t read her little white handbook of missionary rules. I even got a gift from another member apon leaving. Hand knit house slippers. Pretty neat.
And well, now I’m back here in Novo-k. the members were happy to see me again. Especially Pasha, Mesha, and their mother and bobooshka. ( we baptized masha in February… 13 old boy. Their whole family baptized one by one in the fall/winter)
My new companion is Elder Maximov and I think we fit well together. I don’t intend this cycle to be the easiest, but I do think I will enjoy it. I’m starting to feel some of the responsibilities of being a leader now… deep breath.
One particularly exciting thing. I finished the Book of Mormon again on Saturday, and as we often should, put Moroni’s promise to the test (If you read the Book of Mormon, and ask God having Faith in Christ, a Sincere heart, and real intent then He will answer your prayer through the Holy Ghost… your thoughts and your feelings.) It’s always good to test the things that the scriptures say so that we can receive a personal testimony of their validity. So Saturday I prayed. And waited. Yesterday was another Russian holiday (day of freedom) and since there are lots of crazies on drunks on this holiday we were invited to the “Samara Zone Mini Conference / Russian Holiday Quarantine.” There we watched the Joseph Smith Film, President and Sister Sartori talked to us, and we had a testimony meeting. And somewhere in that 3 hours… I got my answer. I know the Book of Mormon is true. Undoubtedly. It is the Word of God. I knew it before, and I’ve gotten my answer before, But I am greatful for a loving Heavenly Father who will answer my prayers each and everytime I ask. I am greatful for the Book of Mormon and how it has helped me to become who I am today, and also help me realize the potential my Heavenly Father sees in me. I am greatful that through it I have gained a stronger testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ and his loving sacrifice for me. And I am greatful that I have been blessed with all the right tools (family, leaders, scriptures… etc.) that have helped me to find that faith for myself.
It is true. I do not doubt it. I hope I can help others to find this peace and happiness that I have.
Well, Family… I love you!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Long, Farewell to you my friend...

Well, Kazan was good while it lasted.
I'm getting transferred. Same song second verse... I’m going back to novoquibeshevsk! I'll even have another Ukrainian Companion. Elder Maxzimov. I actually was in the MTC with him and flew out with him (part way). I'm quite sad to leave this wonderful city... but I'm glad i can see the members in Novo-k once again. It's not a big change going back to the worst apartment in the mission.... I’ve been in the 2nd worse for the last cycle. One day i'll go to a nice apartment with fully functioning plumbing... and i doubt I’ll know what to do!
I'm also going to be a district leader now. At first i heard that i would be a district leader and i thought "easy peasy" as i knew the Novo-K district only consisted of my companionship... but they combined our district with the bezimonkski district. So i have the zone leaders and the sisters in the district. Should be fun. The sisters will be in my old apartment... I hope they like cat pictures with creepy human heads... and colorful duck tape toilet seats....
I'm writing rather early this morning as we are going to a picnic and then will be heading to see a few sights today before i have to leave the best city in the mission. Have to see it off in a good way.
This weekend we also had a baptism. My good old Muslim buddy got baptized! It was a wonderful baptism! He’s had a baptism set up before... but he didn't show. That was about 6 months ago. But we got him there. Although when we came out of a meeting with president Sartori a little bit late we were freaking out that he wasn't there yet! so we went out on the street to call him (bad reception in the branch building) and he was just waiting for his friend to show up. it was a scare. But he's now baptized, confirmed, and entitled to all the wonderful blessings that come from being a member of the church and having the gift of the Holy Ghost to help comfort and guide him. Definitely a good week. I'll have to write something about it in my favorite cat calendar :D
We also taught one investigator yesterday that is quite golden. We finished teaching about the restoration and asked her to pray to receive an answer for herself that the Book of Mormon is true, and she said "I don't think I need to Pray for an answer... I already believe it's true. I just feel it when i read the words" the member on the lesson said "well, still you can't just take the missionaries words for it, we're all just people we could be lying" to which she replied "I don't think Missionaries would lie" well..... we try not too.
Well i'm going to wrap this up for now. That's crazy weather you've been having. its just been sunny and warm here in Kazan. We’re allowed to work without suit coats already. haven't yet though.
Have you built your arks? Or at least repented?
Elder Ellis

p.s. unfortunately i Haven't heard anything about mothers days calls. I'll just try to call around 7 pm (my time) if we call on Sunday. I'll let you know when i know. Conference call it up this time?