Monday, August 29, 2011

kryesteetsya, kryerteetsya...

I lost my missionary tan this week at a picnic... I'm showing off my Texas red-neck heritage now.
Took a plane to Kiev this week for visa trip. Didn't get to go to the temple this time, but we did get back at 6 in the evening instead of 3 in the morning. That had its pros and cons. On the way back from the airport we drove through probably the most beautiful little village nestled in a valley right next to the Volga... I found where I’m going to retire to.
Our little branch here in Novo-k doesn't seem to be growing much in numbers. We only had 25 people at church this last week. But it does seem to becoming stronger. Yesterday was probably the most spiritual sacrament meeting I’ve attended in Russia. The 12 year old we baptized back in February spoke with his family as well. It was way cool to see him do that for the first time.
I've finally got all my books dried out from the rain storm we got caught in last week. They're all a little wavy... but at least still readable. I did manage to buy a nice new umbrella this week.... haven't been able to use it yet though.
Been trying really hard to help quite a few people to be baptized. The ones that are ready are starting to avoid us a little. The other ones just can’t seem to get a grasp on what we're trying to teach. I'm going to have a nice chat one day with whoever made "to cross yourself" and "to "baptize" the same word in Russian. One is a central principle in the doctrine of Christ... and the other one is a false tradition.. I wish they had different words so that i could better explain this to old bobooshki.
Well... That's pretty much the time I’ve got this week.
Love you!
love Elder Ellis

Monday, August 22, 2011

"I've never stopped the rain by complaining..."

This week Flew by.
Summer seems to be over. I'm not expecting any more hot days till next June. It's been a little cooler the last day and today is cold and rainy. Which is just a joy... I've seem to have lost my umbrella. It was a long wet walk to the library today. my companion tried to share his umbrella with me... but I’m a little taller than him so i just kept getting poked in the head, and so i gave up and let the rain fall. I've always enjoyed the rain... but i think it’s one of those joys I’ll have to regain once I’m home.
We have a big goal this month for baptisms.. and its looking less and less likely that we're going to achieve it. We've still got some chances with a couple people, so we're not giving up faith yet. We realize that many time our blessings don't come until AFTER the trial of faith, so were trying hard to keep the faith going. The easiest way is just to forget your doubts. Don't let them distract you and diminish your faith. There are many examples of this in the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon there's the account of the 2000 stripling warriors who were all preserved because they didn't doubt. Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 reads "Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not, Fear not." When Peter stepped out on the water to go unto Christ he had the faith necessary to walk on the water. Only when he let the doubts enter his mind did he begin to sink.
We've got 2 baptisms set up this week that i’s thinking are going to happen. The first one is with our cat investigator. We finally found his fear about those he knows that were baptized, and then soon after fell back into their old lifestyles and left the church. That's kinda a problem here. But not getting baptized isn't going to leave him any better off than those who later fall. It's eliminating even the opportunity to become as our Heavenly Father wants us to be.
We also found a wonderful little family of a bobooshka, her husband, and their great grand-daughter. The husband isn't ever too excited to meet with us he's "too old to change", and tells us that he won't be on the lesson. i just tell him "we'll see" and ask his 6 year old great grand-daughter to invite him in. After a few minutes they both walk in the room together and he has a smile of defeat on his face. That little 6 year old is such a great blessing to that couple. when bobooshka wanted to leave church after the first hour the little girl had a good talk with her... they ended up staying all 3 hours.
My companion and I are getting along pretty well. He's still getting used to how things work here in Russia.... it's definitely not Salt Lake City, Utah. I've been remarkably patient with him as he explains to me about the problems here in the branch like I’ve never noticed them. If he could just find a few more solutions to those problems THEN i would be impressed. It's like when our district leader (Ukrainian) rolls off D&C section 4 out of memory (we're all trying to memorize it in Russian before the area presidency visits next month). Say it in English now... THEN I’ll be impressed.
I do like them both though.
Well, i better wrap this up and head to the reenok to buy me a new umbrella.
love you!
Elder Ellis

Monday, August 15, 2011

Answers from the skies...

Welcome to e-mail list Dad.
I am having trouble lately thinking of things to say in these e-mails. Just been busy and the weeks have all been blending. Maybe one day I’ll get a transfer or something and then I’ll have something to write about rather than the 'copy and paste' e-mails I’ve been sending out lately.
I had a dream that i was back in Branson... i was doing missionary work with our district... but Emma Lennon was a sister missionary and we were knocking in Russian buildings and the intersection on 248 with the white oak station worked a lot more like the intersection in front of the provoslovne church near our apartment here. That was a weird dream.
We've been having some success lately. We've got a ton of people we've been teaching and have had less time for those that just like to argue. I just wish people would progress faster. They just set up home teaching in the branch here yesterday. I'm interested to see how that works out. Maybe one day our little novo-k branch will function how the church is supposed to function.
We got chased down by some drunks the other night. We had been walking a really really long way and we were kinda dragging our feet a little bit. It only took a group of 5 drunks to give us a little more spring in our step. The first guy that approached me grabbed my shirt as I was trying to walk away and i gave him a good shove out of reflex. There was a good moment where we both just looked at each other in surprise, and then we started walking away as his buddies came over. About 10 minutes later we hear someone running up behind us and it was our good ol' friend. We ran a little bit, all the time looking over our shoulders and laughing at his even more drunk buddies struggling to keep up.
I'm working on trying not to get annoyed with people lately. My companion has pointed out that i have the catch phase of "I'm gonna throw him through a wall." we just have some people that like to call us ever hour of every day and have the same conversation.
we got invited to go UFO searching. We had to pass on that great opportunity... we have to get permission for any 'cultural nights'.
one man we talked with about coming to church and keeping the Sabbath day holy... he called us later that night and said he had prayed about going on the Volga instead of coming to church and that God gave him permission..... At least he prayed about it.
Well... those are all the humorous things I’ve observed in this last week.
One 'miracle' in my book: Friday we met with a lady and talked with her about coming to church. She said she wouldn't be able to come because there's water at her dacha (garden cottage) on Sunday (usual response from bobooshki) i felt impressed to ask her if she would come if it rained. She said yes and then stated that the news had promised no rain for a while. I told her i would see her Sunday after it rained... she laughed a little and said we could come by Monday after she gets back from her dacha. Not five minutes after we left the air changed. Saturday night it rained. Sunday it didn't rain much, but God did water her dacha. This didn't help her to come to church this week, and she probably didn't even think about it in that way... but it was a testimony to me about what can happen if we just have a little faith.
that's all I’ve got.
I love you and hope all is well.
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, August 8, 2011

A greenie training a greenie...

or at least that's what all the members here have been saying....
hello family!
I'm not sure how quickly this week went by. last p-day wasn't much of a p-day of all... so it seems like a really long week. But really it was 2 weeks in one.
My new companion is Elder Christensen. He's one of those Utah elders. (I hope that my mission president laughs if he sees that... he's from Utah too)
I'm finally not being dragged around! it only took a year. and perhaps most importantly: I KNOW RUSSIAN BETTER THAN SOMEONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have no clue how happy that makes me; me being with native speakers for the last 7 months. But... he actually almost speaks as well as me. i just understand the russian accent more... although he speaks it better.
I don't think i've ever worked hard as i have this last week. it's just been one thing after the other. I've definitely been pulling the load by myself this week, and with my new companion sitting on top of the pile. Not much time to do anything but work work work. my journal is pretty much a hopeless cause at this point. This e-mail is pretty much the first 'me-time' i've had in the past 2 weeks.
it's good fun. I'm growing a lot. Learning a lot of good qualities... like patience. I'm always being taught patience. It's just been one thing after another. we got our phone stolen on this week as well... which makes it pretty hard to do missionary work. I considered this a trial at first... but once we got a new phone and a member starting calling us 20 times a day (no exaggeration) i realized that it was really just a blessing to be uncontactable for a few days.
We're having some success in the work... but we're going to need a lot more if we're going to reach our goals for the month.
Most important is that i'm doing my best!
"We need more speed Captain!" - "I'm given' it all she's got!!!"
Don't melt. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Keep me posted.
Oh. the circus is in town... but we're not allowed to go. sad. i was really hoping to see some lions.
Elder Ellis

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm not a greenie anymore...

It's been a crazy week, and i think it’s going to get a lot crazier this week.
I'll begin with the end.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to baptize someone. One of our investigators decided she would get baptized this week. She asked me to perform the baptism, and so i was able to finally put on those white pants i brought with me. I seem to have gained some weight lately. Normally, we try to get members to do the baptizing, but i didn't have time to try help her pick out a member. It was a rather good baptismal service.
This week we've been waiting for the official word on transfers. We finally got the 'news' on Thursday that my companion is being transferred to work in the office, and I’m going to be training in Novo-k. We made the rounds with the members so that he could say good-bye, and make promises in my behalf that I’m not entirely sure I’m going to fulfill... that was annoying. But not as annoying as all the members who would say "what? Elder Ellis is staying? He's training?! A greenie with a greenie?!!" That's pretty much how i celebrated my one year mark. Friday, we went to stallins bunker again. Really isn't worth going twice, but i was one of only 2 elders in the group that have already been. I'm going to suggest we go to the zoo-park next cycle... maybe I’ll get to pet a lion. We took our investigator with us and she really enjoyed it.
Saturday, we headed back to samara for a baptismal service. Emanual (he's Nigerian) was baptized. Our investigator came with us, AND invited her friend. After the baptism Elder Bahr and i took a taxi with our investigators back to Novo-k. Elder Maksymov has an early visa trip, so we're officially not companions anymore. On the way home in the taxi with elder Bahr (he'll be Elder Maksymov's companion) our investigator expressed her desire to be baptized... "The sooner the better". Well, she fulfills all the requirements of baptism. So i went to work. I was on the phone from 9:30 to 11:00 Saturday night, Sunday morning i got back on the phone at 7:00 and was making calls till church started at 10 (aside from a 45 min lesson to fill in all the gaps of our previous teaching) I got a three hour break from my phone for church. Then after church got back on the phone until the baptism started around 6. In all the hurry i didn't even think to grab an extra pair of underwear or a towel, or the fact that i didn't know how to baptize someone in Russian. But it all worked out, it was a good baptismal service (3 people actually got baptized, all of them had decided to go ahead with Sunday after they were at the baptismal service on Saturday). It was a miraculous and very exhausting day for many of us. But, it wasn't a very comfortable ride home.
But, we had a baptism. We helped another soul come unto Christ, and qualify for the blessings that Heavenly Father wants to get them.
Wednesday I’ll find out who my new companion is. I'm very interested to see how training goes...
I love you all!
love, elder Ellis