Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy One-Year week!

The weeks continue to get faster.
3 more days and I’ll have already served half my mission. This time last year I was packing my bags… wait no… that’s a lie. I was probably swimming, camping or eating ice cream. I remember that I didn’t pack my bags until the last minute. Well… that’s an exaggeration. It was the last 6 or 7 hours before I started. Apparently that’s all the time I needed? I’ve survived thus far.
This week in Russia has been mildly hot. But I heard from an investigator at church that in America there are record highs up to 50 degrees Celsius. It came up when he was trying to figure out what are beliefs are on hell and where exactly it is located. He suggested maybe in America.. in the state of misery. I then convinced him that it was merely the “refiners’ fire”. He’s quite the character. Speaks English quite well and is “fascinated by the English language”. I’m just glad to have a break from Russian once in a while.
I also spent a good deal of time with him trying to explain the plan of salvation and just how powerful the atonement of Jesus Christ is. He couldn’t fathom how even some of the most sinful people could deserve an inheritance so great as the Telestial Kingdom. Of course they don’t deserve it. But certainly they will receive such. For we know that to return to live with God, we are required to be perfect. I’m nowhere near perfect, and neither is my companion. We don’t deserve such an opportunity. But if the power of Christ’s Atonement can give me that opportunity, than it can certainly give the vilest of sinners an opportunity to live in a kingdom better than this world. But of course they will have to suffer for their sins before our final inheritance if they choose not to accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ through ordinances, such as baptism, that were set forth by Christ in His earthly ministry.
Other fun things about church yesterday, Cat man decided to come without pants. Luckily he was at least wearing some old long johns. I don’t think he’s going to get baptized anytime soon. Even though he admits that he understands that it’s necessary. God did give us all the freedom to choose for ourselves.
Transfers are coming up at the end of the week. My companion is getting transferred and I’ll most likely be training? It’s still a secret. And I’m not in connection with the office couple anymore so it’s hard for me to gather leaky info. Only time will tell. Maybe I also won’t be in Novo-k?
Well… that is all the wonderful and good news that I have this week.
But more importantly, that’s all the time I have for this week.
I love you all! Hope you don’t melt.
Read your scriptures and you won’t be burned!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cats and Chickens...

The recent topic of discussion in our apartment is who is getting the transfer in two weeks. We both have been told we will probably be training next cycle. Which means one of us will be in Novo-k… and the other will be set free. Novo-k is a great city…. But it’s a tough one to work in. I wouldn’t mind being here another cycle… but I’ve heard many of the members express their hopes that I’ll be the one transferred. Apparently they think I don’t understand them when they say stuff like that to my companion. Well… that much I do understand. At first I was a little offended… but then I thought I’d just agree with them. Now, I could go either way. I do pray for “Elder Maksymov to have success in novo-k next cycle” in our companionship prayers… but that’s mainly to irritate my companion. It works. He threw my copy of preach my gospel at me this morning and the front cover tore off. I’m in the middle of fixing it with colorful ducktape, my Leatherman, and patience.
This last week went even faster than the previous. We’ve stayed busy. We’ve been nice to each other. And I’ve been happy. We went out to our landlady’s dacha to do some service and teach her a lesson this past week. We gathered berries, played with some chickens, and gathered more fruits. She offered us to cook us some chicken for dinner. I got a little excited thinking I could help her prepare one of her chickens for dinner…. But she informed me that we were going to eat last summer’s chickens, and that she would be preparing this summers’ chickens in October. She said she would let me know and invite me to help if I was still here in October. I figure it would be a good experience for me. If I’m going to eat a chicken… I think I should be prepared to kill one.
Our cat man might get baptized on the 30th… but I’m not holding my breath. He prayers more sincerely that most people I’ve heard pray… but Its hard not to laugh when he starts talking to his cats during his long prayers… “help me to know what to do… help me to know if I need to get baptized…. *meow* quiet belka! I’m not asking you! Deemka… stop being a hooligan!...”
Well… that’s about it for now.
Oh! I got yet another wonderful package from my GRAND mother.
She spends too much money on me.
Love you all!
Love, Elder ellis

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beat the Heat!

Wella wella
This week really flew by.
Our zone leaders came on splits with us this week... which was good. The best part was that they organized all the junk in our apartment for us. Apparently they must be reading in Mosiah 2 where it talks about leaders should serve those they lead, and that when we're in the service of others we are only in the service of God. I learned from their example. At first when they pointed out that our apartment was a mess, i wasn't really ready to listen to them. Just we haven't bothered organizing much because we figured as soon as we did so we would just have to throw it all in the back of 6 taxis again and move it somewhere new. that seems like a really long run-on sentence. In the end, our junk is organized, and i learned a thing or two about service and leadership.
My companion has been teaching me a lot about patience and humility. I haven’t been learning though. It's about time i apply the skills i learned from my sisters.... except the whole walking away... neel za. (forbidden). Our companionship is basically like Elder Wagley and his companion when they came to catch the opossum. I have a greater understanding and respect for that companion now. And of course nobody remembers that companions name... Elvis... Alex.... Alice... Andrea.... Yellis...
We went out to a small village where a couple members live this week. Ended up with 3 new investigators, and a couple potentials. We'll head out there again soon.... when we have money. its almost 700 rubles (~23 dollars) to travel out there.... which greatly cuts into our MSF.
It has been HOT. The temperature peaked at 43 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit) on Friday. We took the train back from our district meeting in samara and it was the HOTTEST I’ve EVER been in my life. I thought i was going to die. I'm asking myself what happened to the Samara Russia i heard about... high of 70 degrees in the summer, low humidity. The only truth to my beliefs was the lows of -40 in the winter.
Our old man investigator didn't get baptized this week. He understands all that we've taught him... just has some hesitations on actually getting baptized. He's just a lot more comfortable talking to his cats than to church members. However, I think WE have gained the status of cats with him. Although he doesn't call us hooligans... and he still talks to his cats more.
Well... that's about all the interesting and boring news i have to talk about today.
I did buy me a watermelon on the 4th of July. Ate half of it for lunch... the other half for dinner the next day.
It’s too hot to cook... so I’ve gone back to my old eating habits of cereal and strawberry shakes.
Which really has so many benefits... I love strawberry shakes, It doesn't heat up our apartment, Little preparation time, AND my pants are no longer too big.
Well.... love you all!
Love, Elder Elvis.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July

well.... another week.
our investigators are dropping like flies.
The people we do teach don't actually give us time to teach.
I'm can't say negative things about the area that i serve in.... but i will say that some people are not crazy.
everyone likes to comment on my language and its not super fun.
our apartment is still in boxes waiting for us to move again... which will probably be at least another month and a half.
My companion keeps information from me... and i'm no big fan of secrets.
secrets don't make friends.... they make disunity.
We did have exchanges this week with the assistants. Elder Eres was on a few lessons with me and walked out about as frustrated as i've been these past 2 weeks. He told me that i have got the patience of.... something really patient. Which is quite needed for this area.
We did get put back into a district. which is good. Except we have to make the 20 min - 3 hour trip to samara. it all depends on traffic. but we're always really early or rather late. I'm no fan of being late.
Finally tracked down one of my old investigators that i taught when i was here last time. he was rather happy to see me, but said his life just isn't in a place right now that he can come to church or meet with us. I tried to explain that that's when we need the gosple the most... but he just said he'd come when he was ready. which would be after his probation... in november 2012.
So... things weren't so fun this last week... but it can really only get better. and i expect it to.
Happy Birthday Mama! I love you!
Happy Fourth of July! I will not be playing with any bottle rockets this year.... it's not allowed.
I am wearing grandpa's red white and blue tie today. the only time i've gone astray from solid color in the last 11 months.
I hope you all enjoy the holiday! I'm jealous.
love you all!
Elder Ellis