Monday, September 26, 2011

Army Surplus...

Well. It's been a good week. Went by fast. I think if they keep me in Kazan the rest of my mission it will seem like a month.
This week we helped out at a member’s house helping him do a remont. We put some holes in the wall and broke down old Russian furniture. I do like being destructive.
Our apartment still needs a remont done... and I’m thinking about working on actually getting cabinet doors put back on... we just need the time to do it. Last week we got home from our errands with only 20 minutes of p-day left. That was enough time to put the groceries away and eat an apple.
We somehow ended up with a good amount of money at the end of the month. I'm excited to eat well this next week. The best part is that we've almost got enough stickers at our grocery store for a free pan! we've only got one more week to spend enough money there to get it before the program ends... so... 2 weeks of plenty... and then 4 weeks of a nice pan.... just with nothing to cook in it. Elder Kazikov took the other one they got home with him. That's what stinks about white washing an area... you get there and there’s no food, no pans, and no plans. But we're managing.
Its Russian fall now... which is more like a Missouri winter. Hanging around 10 C and cold and rainy most days. My Florida companion isn't too happy about that. I'm not complaining yet... i just wish the Russian Gov. would turn on our radiators so i can stop having to sleep in the only sweatshirt i have... which happens to be my v neck that i wear under my suit coat.
I do have my dino footie pajamas though... it’s not that cold yet though.
I sent a cd with pictures on it last week. Let me know when and IF it gets there. I guess the SD card and that letter never made it... oh well... it was a cheap SD card.
My favorite thing about Kazan is my favorite Russian. He's 47 years old and somewhat mentally challenged. Every week he comes up to me and points at a picture of Christ and asks
"Elvis, Elvis! Eta Eesoos? Eta Eesoos?" Yes... that's Jesus. "Slava Boga!"
But even better is when he goes through the Liahona and tries to find me a girlfriend.
Which reminds me of how many investigators that we have that sell flowers. Basically every time a flower lady tells us we need to buy flowers, they become an investigator.
"Why would we need flowers? We don't have girlfriends!" "Why not? Handsome young men as yourselves... you should have girlfriends... buy flowers" "nope, cuz we're missionaries... you should be baptised... read this Book"
That's not a direct translation. But gets the point across. Our goal is to stop getting the flower ladies to tell us to buy flowers. And who knows... maybe 1 or 2 of them might get baptized.
Well... gotta go.
Today we're going to park pobedi (victory) to take pictures of tanks and airplanes.
Love you
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Greatest City in the World!

And back to the worst apartment in the mission. You win some, you lose some, but I’m not complaining.
I'm in the same area of Kazan that i was in last time, so this transfer isn't a total 'white wash'... but it sure kinda feels like it. I don't know any of our investigators yet, and I’ve forgotten half the branch members' names. I'm not entirely sure how to get around,... but i never knew the first time i was here. But... I’ve been doing pretty good. And asking for directions is a good way to get people to actually talk to you.
My companion is Elder Bearden. I'm jealous of his last name. it contains the words 'Bear, Den, and Beard' it doesn't get much manlier than that. He's from Orlando, Florida.., the other old persons / family vacation spot in the U.S. Just with that we already have a lot in common. And being from Florida means he's not from Utah. Not that that matters....
This week we rode with the church driver on the bumpy roads of Russia, and 8-9 hours later ended up in my old apartment on the north side of Kazan. It was already midnight, so we went straight to bed and arose 6 short hours later. I forgot just how dirty this apartment is. Mainly because when i came last time, I was coming from an even dirtier apartment. Today we spent an hour just cleaning the fridge and the silverware drawer. That’s going to be a fun p-day project. Once everything is clean maybe I’ll work on fixing doors and cabinets.
It's not really as bad as my description is making it sound... but... i could just be used to living in dirty apartments. My last companion complained about the apartment we had in Novo-k... I really couldn't find anything to complain about there except the fact it was filled with our land-ladies junk. Although we did enjoy some of the fur pelts she had lying around.
We got to do a little service this week for a member. He just bought a new apartment and is starting to do a re-mont. I don't remember if that's understandable in English. Remodel. So we helped him haul out some old furniture, wall paper, doors, bathtub, oven, and everything else in the apartment. We basically stripped it down to the concrete box that all Russian apartments really are. He made some soup for us afterwards and we taught one of his friends. I wish we could remodel our apartment. (Russians are pretty much always remodeling... i think our family might be a little Russian in that manner)
It was pretty good soup. But i do have to say that it wasn't quite as good as the things I’ve been making lately. I'm actually starting to cook pretty much every day. I've got a small arsenal of things i like to cook now... plov, tacos, crepes, noodles in sauce, French toast... omelets... eggs... hash browns... fried potatoes... shakes.......cereal....... ok, so maybe i still don't really make that much. But it's improvement.
Speaking of food, i got a package from my favorite mother. THANK YOU.
The Tuesday after i sent the list of things i would want, i thought to myself "Dang... I didn't put cheesecake... i REALLY want some cheesecake." I guess our brains connect even from half way around the world.
Well... Gotta wrap this up
Love you!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, September 12, 2011


That's the Russian word for 'punishment'. I feel like I must have done something wrong, because I’m being banished back to the northernmost city of our mission; Kazan.
I'm very excited about the transfer I just received. I love the city of Kazan and I’m excited to return. (even if all my formal investigators there got baptized while i was gone). I'm not going to miss the streets of Novo-K much, but i do wish i was able to take a few of our investigators and members from here with me. I'll be heading out Wednesday and making the 10 hour bus ride north. I'll be training once again, so i don't yet know who my companion will be. I do know that the Kazan district will consist of me and my trainee, and Elder Doughtery and his trainee. It's only Elder Doughtery's second cycle in Russia... so it looks like I’ll be training 3. Hopefully that's not actually the case (I don't expect it to be), but I will probably mention that a few times to stir the pot a little.
I've actually enjoyed serving with elder Christensen this last cycle. I'm finally figuring out how to learn Russian once again. All my native companions all spoke Russian great... but none of them knew how to LEARN it. So basically what i gained from them is better comprehension, and some neat little phrases. "kashmar! oozhush! Mama Darahaya! Eedee ot suda! ya tozhye ne sahar." (Horrible! Terrible! Dear Mother! Get out of here! I’m also not sugar)
I do miss serving with some of those natives though.

"When you're walking through a field of crap, you can almost always look back and see grass starting to grow" - Elder Ellis

which is to say, most of our not so favorite experiences often can become some of our favorite memories.
My current companion has asked me why i speak so fondly about serving with my last companion if we had so many fights and arguments. I just told him about my sisters and how much i love them. He understood. I'm not sure i can explain that phenomenon though.

Other news from this week

Elder Zwick (from the first quorum of the 70) and president Sweightzer (area president from the 2nd quorum of the 70) came to our zone conference this last week. It was wonderful to sit and listen to the things that they had to say. Elder Zwick was a mission president in Chile a while back and had some good things to say about Elder Hughes (Jason) who served there and now sings in Branson.

Well, I'm outta time, So I’ll be e-mailing you next week (from Kazan!) and I’ll let you know about my new greenie.
love you all,
love Elder Ellis

p.s. I'm gonna try to send a cd home with some pictures on it. Let me know if it makes it, and if it works. I sent a cheap SD card a while back... but apparently it never made it. I was told Cd's have a better chance.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Petting Lions...

If you’re expecting to read anything spiritual or about Russia in this letter, you might as well stop reading now.
I'm pretty sure I was the MOST excited person on that half-acre lot. Most of the kids got bored after about 40 minutes, but I for one was sad to leave after being there for 2 hours. The highlights of the small zoo included a HUGE brown bear, a big ol' lion, a black panther, a biting fox, and the squirrel cage. I’ve never seen a squirrel cage in a zoo. The zoo itself wasn't much of a zoo... it had more the feeling of a petting zoo than anything else. In fact, I’ve been to better petting zoos. The biggest draw-back was that you couldn't actually pet any of the animals. I did attempt to pet the fox... and he did attempt to bite me. But i was too fast. I tried to get a good picture with the lion... but couldn't get close enough. At one point he knocked his tray of meat out of his cage and let out quite the load roar for such a little room. I was half convinced there was a dinosaur in there. The most entertaining was the big fat bear. Pretty much the size of the big bear that sits in the gift shop at silver dollar city. If you threw him food he would catch it in his mouth. I was interested to see if he would eat other things if we gave them a good toss... but i decided that probably wasn't the best idea.
I do want a pet squirrel when i get home after seeing the squirrel exhibit. Owen and i can catch a skunk pretty well... i think we're going to have to go squirrel trappin'.
This next week Elder Zwick from the 1st quorum of the 70 is coming to zone conference, and President Schweitzer from the eastern European region will be along with him. excited to learn some stuff from them. We should also be finding out about transfers sometime this week as well. I'm interested to see if I’ll be getting transferred. My companion has started making no bake cookies several times a week. I'll be a little sad when one of us goes.
Yesterday was a hay-day at church. 5 investigators showed up, and we had a really good fast and testimony meeting. The rest of church was... well... I’m just glad a few investigators could only stay for the first hour. I'm counting down the Sundays until i get to take an after church nap. Not really... but i am looking forward to that day.
Well, that's my time. ('hit the road jack' just started playing on the guy's computer next to me.)
love you!
Elder Ellis