Monday, November 28, 2011


my last thanksgiving in russia.... but probably not the last one where my family eats without me....We had a pretty good thanksgiving week. Thursday night we had a branch activity that we've thought would be a really good activity for nonmembers and less actives. We tried to get everyone excited for it, and were somewhat successful in it, but when we said plan for 40 they all rolled their eyes and told us no more that 30 would show up. Thursday rolled around... and well... not everyone got chicken. over 40 people came. It was a really good activity and there were 4 or 5 less actives that came and 4 nonmembers there. The biggest disappointment of the night was that i got 3rd in musical chairs.i made mash potatoes for the first time... i didn't even know i knew how to make them.... but they turned out pretty pumpkin pie, black bottom pies, or stuffing. well... the new elder made some "stuff" but it was definitely lacking the "ing".Also, we had a baptism! He's really got his head around what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He even uses the full name like we're supposed to instead of just saying mormon. We're working to get his wife more interested. She came to the Thanksgiving dinner and the baptismal service! but she didn't come to church yesterday. We're working to get her to let us come show them how to do family home evening. She said we can come over when He cleans the house.which reminds me that i forgot the phone at home... opa popa. (we're supposed to call our district leaders and tell them our apartment is clean before we go out on p-day... i'm district leader and kazan south might still be sitting in their apartment... whoops.) i think thats a funny rule. "Mom! my room is clean! can i go out to play?!" The mission helps you to grow up a lot... but in some ways it just makes you more of a kid.Our other baptism we had planned probably isnt going to happen this week. He went back to thinking he's muslim. He accepts Christ, and even thinks that Christ is not just a prophet, but our Savior... but.... he's muslim. Still working with him. He's praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true again.well..... Today is my 16 month you!love, Elder Ellis
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Monday, November 21, 2011

A White Winter...

We have a lot of snow now. It's pretty much snowed all week. Snow means warmer weather to, so that’s been nice.
We actually spent most the week in Toliatti at the zone leaders apartment.... I’m glad to be back in Kazan. Toliatti.... is not as nice as Kazan. And I’ve really grown used to my Florida companion.... when one of us gets transferred life might get rough again.
We were able to go to the temple on this last visa trip. Another great trip. There were more English speakers than Russian so they had it in English with Russian translations. I actually was hoping to listen half in Russian. Going to the temple helped me to realize that we need to focus more on not just getting our investigators baptized, but making sure they progress towards the temple afterwards. It’s a little harder to do here in Russia since there's no temple here yet. But it would help solve the problem of new converts (and other members) going inactive. We just get the flak for new converts going inactive. Branch leadership does a lot to try to convince us not to baptize people because they don't think they're ready and will just go inactive. I think they should just help us on more lessons and make sure relief society and priesthood meetings aren't just people arguing about doctrine.
Anyway... the church will grow and become stronger in Russia.We're having 2 baptisms coming up. One this week and one the next. We’ve got a lot of investigators that could be ready in December, so we're looking companion is a really good impersonator of people. He's really helping me to enjoy the colorfulness of some of our leaders and members here in Kazan.
Happy thanksgiving to all! We're having a big thanksgiving dinner for the ward that we somehow ended up in charge of. Should be good.
Most important, i won't be forgotten!
Love, elder Ellis
(pictures of Temple in previous post)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cockroach miracles in the Snow...

It’s been a pretty good week here in KazanActually, a pretty great week!
It started out with a little bit of snow. We’ve got about 3 inches now and should stay until.... April. Snow is good because something about having snow just makes the air seem warmer... even though it’s not. We've had a lot of cool missionary miracles on this week as well. Way good contacts on the street. One lady we talked to the other day was interested to talk to us because we spoke English. About half way through the conversation she mentioned that she had been to Bryce canyon when visiting friends in the US.--"Bryce canyon... that's in Utah! We might be from the same church as your friends!"-- Well... are you the Mormons? --YES! would you like to know more about what your friends believe?-- why yes i would like that, they gave me a book of Mormon in English and when i was with them i just felt different around them- it was a great contact, and we'll be meeting with her and her son on Saturday.
Yesterday we had a man show up at church that the other elders had been teaching a while back. He stopped answering his phone when they told him that he should legalize his marriage. Yesterday he told us that he just got his marriage officialized and he asked when he can get baptized. How about next week?! I ended up teaching Gospel Principles and it was a really spirit-filled lesson. I asked him to share the Joseph smith Story, and he just busted out one of the best Russian testimonies I’ve ever heard.
He'll get baptized on the 26th. We've got 1 or 2 that might join him and at least one the next week. We're having a lot of success.
Also i just heard today I’ve got visa trip on Wednesday, and we'll be going to the kiev temple again! Excited about that.
The Sartoris were also up here this week. We didn't really talk to them much... they were busy and we were busy. but they did do an apartment check... sister Sartori was a little shocked to see the fake cockroach i left in the shower for my companion to find.... opa popa! (this is like saying oopsie whoopsie... but it actually means "oops butt"... I’m trying to get the new elders to start saying this... i think it’s funny) Thanks to my GRAND mother:)
This Florida companion is probably my favorite companion thus far... i think it’s because he's from Florida... and not other places....And well, we're in the best area of the best city in world.
life is good.. hope yours is too!
love,Elder Ellis

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dragons,Dinosaurs, Degrees...Dustin

It dropped over 20 degrees in a matter of 2 days. My companion is not quite enjoying Russian winter... i informed him this is just Russian fall. But... I'm not enjoying it much either. ITS COLD. the temperature is -10 degrees Celsius. which really isn't bad... but this city is WINDY. Ice is already were there once were mud puddles... elder Bearden was excited to walk on ice the first time... but after his fall count hit 1 he was a little less excited. I laughed... only because I've been there. I'm hoping to keep my fall count less than 5 this year. I don't think my companion has much of a chance since his is already ticking the first week of November.
We finally went to the Kremlin last week! i got some decent pictures. we went around 5 and it was already dark... my camera doesn't take very good night pictures. or pictures inside. but on a sunny day its a good camera!
The new elders came in this week. Its probably not going to be as fun as a cycle as last. The new elder is the definition of a green elder... I like my trainee.
The Satori's will be here this next weekend, and informed us they will be doing an apartment check. our apartment is.... not so clean. We keep it pretty tidy, just the years of grease built up on the floor around the stove, and other things of the nature, make it not so clean. We cleaned for 3 and half hours today.... and well... its still gross. Got more work to do! we've also got to work on sealing the windows a little better... our apartment is cold! i have 2 blankets, and i slept in my flannel footie pajamas last night... and well i think I'll keep my thermals on with the footie pajamas.
I got 3 packages this week! thank you! I've been thinking about growing out my beard on the mission... but now i don't have too!
I was at first confused at why MY GRAND mother thought there wasn't any toilet paper in Russia? But then i caught on and thought it made the perfect package. Thank you! I haven't really looked through the other one i got from GRAND Mother yet, (just got it last night) but it looked like useful stuff.
Love you all!
Love, Elder Ellis