Monday, July 2, 2012

Last One...

It's strange to me that I'm sending my last e-mail but it is starting to set in that i'm going home. I'm way excited about it, a little apprehensive, and kinda sad. Lot of good people here, i'll miss them. I do love Russia and hope to visit. We'll be starting in moscow and working our way down the volga to kazan samara and engels. Engels isn't much to look at, but i've definitely gained a few friends here. It's a little hard to think that i'm going home and won't be able to see a few baptisms that i've been waiting to happen. I'm sure they won't be soon, but when they do make that step, it would've been nice to see it. Makes me kinda wish i served in america. But not really.
We did have a baptism this week however. Good end to the mission. First baptism was my 2nd week, last one 2nd to last week. good book ends. Much better than ending with 7 months of not filling the font.
This Chapter is ending, time for the next. Ready to be home... just savoring the time i have left in the Motherland.
well... some difficulties with the computers has made me run out of time... i guess we'll just talk about everything else next week :) love you all! see you soon!
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, June 25, 2012

2nd to last...

Pretty interesting week,
Tuesday and Wednesday the zone leaders came down. Had a pretty good exchange with them... found some gas masks (you'll see the pictures in2 weeks).
 Thursday and Friday we headed up to marks for exchanges within the district, those were a lot of fun. But Elder Hill ended up on a lesson with a sick child and brought it home with him. I'm not sick, but he was throwing up all day yesterday. Seems to be doing better. But yesterday we didn't make it to church. That was weird. We did get permission to bless the sacrament in our apartment so that was good. I spent the day studying, and packing. Both my bags weight 20 kilo (about 45 lbs) and my carry on weighs about 8kilo. I'm looking good! I guess that makes me officially 'trunky'... I'm living out of my carry-on for the next 2 weeks.
We had a good lesson here with a less active member. He fell less active do to health and a grudge, and he's working on fixing both of those. the lesson he pretty much taught himself. He just talked about how he used to not like one of the leaders here, but over the course of the last 3-4 months he's worked on getting rid of that grudge.
About 2 weeks ago we invited that leader to go out and visit him. The less active told us about how much that meant to him and how nice of a visit they had. It was neat to see the healing power of forgiving others in his life. The gospel certainly changes us and makes us happier.
This week my companion has visa trip. So I'll be kicking it with Elder Bearden in Saratov Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is 3 hours of planning, Friday we've got lessons set up and baptismal interview scheduled. Saturday is a baptism day. And then we find ourselves at my last Sunday in the branch I'm serving in as a missionary. That doesn't seem right.
well... i love you!
love Elder Ellis

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

3 weeks...

It's just now starting to set in that I'm going to be leaving Russia in 3 weeks. I'm not sure how i feel about it. The only thing that has really sunk in is that I'm going to the lake to escape the heat! THAT i am looking forward to and can't wait. its been about 40 C most the week (38 is 100 F) and pretty humid. Any breeze just makes it seem that you've got a heater blowing in your face. I will be praying for rain to go canoeing when i get home! Or maybe we'll just have to go out to 11 point. I'm going canoeing this summer.
We had 7 investigators at church this week we're expecting about 16.... we found a pretty big family. We've got a baptism coming up the 30th, and that will probably be the only one before i go home.
But I'm way happy about it! She came to church for the second time and liked it... except relief society... but that's normal from what i hear? 
my head is pretty much still in it. I'm not super excited to go out talking to people on the streets, but we've got a lot of investigators right now and we're just helping them move along. Just 1 baptism before i go home. The rest will probably fall some time in summer, when they're ready. We have a family of like 20 or so we're working on. The grand mother and one of her daughters came to church yesterday and liked it.
They will probably all be baptised, but it might takes years. they've got a lot of cultural things that will hold them back. they're gypsies. actually one of the kids just showed up right now at the Internet club.
Not very nervous about the driving test. I'll just have to study the 'what happens if you get a dui' section.
of course the Russian monopoly is coming home! and i expect to play it
:) I haven't had a good argument in a while!
ha ha
well... I'm gonna be going now.
see you in 21 days!
Elder Ellis

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My bags aren't packed ...

We've got a baptism coming up on the 30th! Another one around that time, but we're not sure if that will happen before i go home.
We met her when we were dropping by some former investigators. We knocked on the former's door and his mother wasn't at all interested in talking to us. so we started to leave, but decided we should knock a few more doors in the building. We went up to the ninth floor but there was a door leading to the hallway with all the apartment doors and it was locked. So we headed down a floor... same thing. Went down the next floor knocked on a door, taught a short little lesson, prayed with her and set up a return meeting.(her daughter later called and told us to never come back) We decided we'd head down to the next floor before knocking any more doors, but on the way we ran into a young man. He asked us some questions and he invited us in. We taught him and his mother a lesson and his mother just took it all in. It was miracle timing as his mother explained to us that she doesn't answer the door, especially to men. Her son was the ticket in. She also told us she's seen missionaries on the street before and has always wanted to talk to them but they've never approached her. We've returned and taught her 3-4 times now, and she came to church yesterday and she wants to get baptised! The son has some problems, but is already showing some desire to change.
The work is going along pretty well lately, stayin pretty busy and pretty happy. It's weird to think i have less than a month left now.
Zone conference was pretty good.
I'm getting a little tired of riding hot, muggy buses packed full of people crossing over the Volga where everyone is swimming and having a good time. Looking forward to a good air conditioned car and driving TO the river and not just past.
and, looking forward to seein you all soon! My bags aren't packed or anything, but you know how i like to wait til the last minute
(literally) to finish packing my bags!
love you!
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another week gone...

Another week gone
This week we have zone conference so I'm expecting it to fly by as well.
Its been rather cool the last week or so... basically ever since we got the a/c working. The A/C unit is in the bedroom, so it gets pretty cold in there in order to keep the rest of the apartment at a nice temperature. Which ended up getting my companion sick. He's mostly better, but he spent a good hour last night coughing. He ended up getting more sleep than me out of it.  Dang white handbook keeps me from giving in to go sleep on the couch. I just laid there thinking I'm never getting married.
We have a few good potentials for baptism this month. We're really hopeful for them. One is a grandmother of a huge family of gypsies.
this will be a little tough, so far none of the members will go with us to their house... Russians generally don't like gypsies. They're a little wild. Their lifestyle isn't the 'norm' but they are so humble and nice. We see so many people who just complain about everything.
'social security' checks are low... food is too high... yada yada yada. This family really doesn't have much... but they've got one big ol' happy family! And they're pretty content with that. And well, Family is one of the things we can take with us when we die. So they seem pretty well off for me.
We got the 2nd councilor in the branch presidency to help us on a lesson for the first time since I've been here. It was a pretty good lesson.  at the end we walked to the bus stop with him. He kept going off about how good of a lesson it was saying 'wow, i was really surprised. that was a dang good lesson! I've just thought you two were weak elders... especially elder ellis.... he never says anything! but man.... i was wrong, you two are good!'
made me laugh. That's what happens when you finally go on a lesson with us. But i see where he's coming from. My companion really likes to keep his mouth running, so i am pretty quiet in most situations.
lessons is usually where i take the lead.
well.... looking forward to seein y'all in 5 weeks!
I'm really starting to get the feeling I'm going to miss Russia though love you!
Elder Ellis

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last 6 weeks...

We have a/c now!
And I'll be enjoying it for my last 6 weeks as i did not get transferred. Neither did my companion. So... no more wondering where I'm going. I'm here, and then I'll be there.
We spent a good amount of time today with our investigator working on one of his 'inventions'. This guy has a head on him. He's making rubber molds for candy factories and he's working on a machine to help him do this. Pretty interesting. We've had a lot of good lessons with him, and he'd be ready for baptism soon, but unfortunately he got a job kayaking up near Moscow.  We also have another investigator who has been really close to baptism that is looking like she's going to get baptised in Moscow. The blessings of having the first stake in Russia i guess. Hopefully they'll get theirs here in a year. I'm hoping someone gets baptised here before i leave though.
i love you!
Elder Ellis

Monday, May 21, 2012

Time is getting short, so are the emails...

Hey there
This week went by pretty decently. Zone leaders came down for exchanges, went pretty good... we just don't have any "hot pockets"
left >:(
This last weekend was member district conference. I got to see two of my favorite missionaries probably for the last time. Elder Rosell goes home in a week, and Elder Maksymov goes home the cycle after me (yeah, i like him... it was just a little hard serving with him) Also there were like 245 people in attendance at the conference... made the goal of having a stake here by next July seem reachable.
This week we're going down to marks on exchanges. I always enjoy spending time with Elder Berrett. He's from Pocatello, so i plan to end up at his home coming next summer. Our landlord is going to be fixing a few things around the apartment while we're gone (we hope this means getting the air conditioner up and running!) It's been a bit cooler lately so we're not complaining. It rains every p-day.
including today. transfers are coming up. everyone is getting anxious for those as usually. But, i think I'm ending my mission with Elder Hill here in Engels. we shall see though.
50 days counting today. I'm not really counting down... I'm just aware.
well.... love you!
Elder Ellis

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

E-mails after calling are always a little hard to think what to say.
It's getting pretty hot here, we're hopefully gonna have the air conditioner able to use next week. What a luxury. Didn't have one last year... that wasn't fun. We even have TWO fans! I broke one last night singing some ray charles into it... (i'm not THAT bad of a singer.. i just knocked it over...) So last night was a little sticky without a fan blowing on me. But i fixed it this morning with some blue duck tape and super glue, and now it works better than it did before. I'm such a handy-man! Though i did end up with my fingers and and a few eyelashes stuck together. don't worry ma. I fear mentioning anything to do with eyes.
Looking foward to some canoeing when i get home.
This week there's a member district conference. Kiev Temple president will be in attendance. Saw him just last week. I also found it a little weird when they spoke a little louder than usual during the fire drill.
Exchanges with the zone leaders this week too. I'm not dreading it.
i've humbled myself.
well... I love you!
love Elder Ellis

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trains and Planes

Well I'm finally back in Engels. Spent the week traveling from Saratov to Samara to Kiev, then the same cities on the way back. Pretty interesting week, a little tiring.
Funny story that maybe just i think is funny.
So often times while talking to people on the street we get rejected by people rather emphatically saying 'I'm Russian Orthodox!" I'm not sure why they think they need to say that in such a prideful way. we know their Russian orthodox... that's why we're inviting them. I thought it was just that they think we're some American church and they've got that patriotism.
Well this week we started talking to a girl that was passing out fliers for a cosmetic store. We were talking to her for a little bit, and all the while she was passing out fliers. She went to go give one lady a flier for the magneet store, and she stopped and said in a way that we missionaries know all-to-well "I go to Ruble Boom!" made me and my companion laugh.
we also had an old grandma pass us the other day waving a 'fig' around in the air talking like only crazy old bobooshki can. (a fig is kinda like the middle finger, but not as offensive. Parents will often give their children the fig when the keep whining for something. it's similar to the sign language letter 'T') So.... we went to Kiev. It was a pretty good trip. Theres one guy (passport control) in the Samara airport that likes to give us a hard time. "I just hope you know that what you're doing here is illegal..."
well... if it's illegal.... why don't you do anything about it?.. "i can't".... that's because its not illegal.
The temple was really good. Learned some interesting stuff. We spent most of the day there, but they didn't have very many sessions of anything... so we just spent a lot of time sitting in the temple. We also got to participate in a fire drill. Probably the first and last time I'll ever have the opportunity to do a fire drill in the temple.
It was kinda interesting, and helped me to really understand just how sacred the work we do in the temple is. like, did you know that if there's a fire, they take the time to gather up all the cards with information about ancestors? I probably wouldn't think to do that in a fire... must be important! I also go to do some work for some family members of a member in Novo-k. So that was a neat experience.
We also got to go to a baptism up in Samara while we where there. One branch up there has a lot of foreign members and investigators due to a university. It was pretty cool to see one African baptize another in Rasia... Russians are typically not very accepting of black people.
But the gospel knows no bounds.
well.... I love you!
hope all is going well
Elder Ellis

Russia is zombie proof because all the buildings are made from thick concrete. usually the first floor windows are all barred. I would feel pretty safe in my apartment if a zombie outbreak were to occur.
we had some pretty good storms this last week. had me thinking tornado! i was happy to enjoy it feeling safe in my zombie proof apartment 8 stories up with a good view of the skyline. No tornado.
just some wind damage-tree limbs, fences, a few ripped up roofs....

Monday, April 30, 2012

This week is going to be a fast one...

Well, this was a long week, but a pretty good one. We did service without stepping in poo. Finished repairing a garage door for and investigator. I really appreciate the way dad builds now. That's all I'll say.
This week is going to be a fast one. Tonight my comp gets on a train to Samara. I come back to work with Elder Bearden (yeah!) all day Tuesday. Wednesday we pick up our comps at the train station and we'll have about half the day before we go back up to the train station where elder Bearden and i will take a night train to Samara. Thursday we'll work in Samara, Friday visa trip (get to go to the temple!) and then Saturday work in Samara take a night train home, jump in a taxi to make it on time to church. Everyone one else from Saratov is just flying out from Saratov, but i some how lucked out to get to spend the week with elder Bearden traveling. (i really like traveling... my favorite method is bus rides. They're during the day and i can just sleep. wake up, get off the bus, and it's already time to go to bed.) 2 years of missionary work makes for one really tired person... all the time. When i get home i expect to be a zombie for at least a few days. Speaking of zombies... I've been realizing how zombie proof Russia is.
Oh, happy anniversaries! I just realized it's already the last day of April.
well... this one's going to be a little short, time's up
love you!
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, April 23, 2012

No Iguanas here...

It's officially short sleeve weather here.
We tried to have a sports night, but only rain showed up.... and no that's not a hippy name of an investigator or member. Its seems to be raining pretty good right now too... should be a good walk home.
I doubt there are iguanas in Russia... but who knows, its a big country. Maybe down towards the southern part? none here. our Internet club is name Hameleon tho... i think they forgot the C.
So I've been hearing a lot about Romney over here too. good and bad.
I've heard several times that Romney said that if he's elected then Russia is America's #1 enemy. They all claim to have seen and heard it themselves.... but the same don't know English and unless Romney served a mission in Russia i doubt , что он емеет говорить Russian. So fill me in on that.
The work has been a little slow, but we've been finding a lot of opportunities to serve. two weeks ago we helped build a wooden garage door out of scrap wood, and raise a roof that had fallen in a chicken pen. we'll be going back out there tomorrow, maybe to shovel out all the poop that was in there. This last week we helped a member carry some suplies for his house he is building. He has a big dog that likes to poop all over the yard. So far all of our service has resulted in stinky boots.
I've got a visa trip next week, so i should get that package that's been waiting in the office for me a while. Luckily my companions birthday was in April too, so I've already had some cake and ice cream.
speaking of ice cream.... I decided not to follow through on my experiment to see how much weight i could gain in the 11 weeks left...
it was working too well. we've started to run some mornings. but my comp isn't much of a runner.
well.... i think the rain actually stopped, so we're going to make a run for it.
love you!
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Hits...

Those were some pretty cute pictures you send me of Kennady, Eisley and the baby. Kennady is big! and i laughed at the picture with the Easter bunny, and how the baby is already becoming a REAL man. haha
This week stayed pretty entertaining. Not as entertaining as finding a pipe bomb in the church parking lot though. That's a pretty good mission story. Don't worry, it's not on my bucket list. But i did pass off an item this week. In answer to Kortney's question, whether i got punched or hit by a car, i can now answer both! The first one was a good hit to the face (not as hard as my freshman year)... but this week i got hit by a car! Not a hard hit by any means, just suddenly i was sitting on the hood of a car. He just tapped into me really, but enough that i can make the claim that i among the missionaries that got hit by a car!
General Conference was good. We got to watch a good portion in English. I've become a lot more appreciative of the opportunity we have to listen to a prophet of God every 6 months. A good portion of the members here are a little more apathetic about it... but looking back 3 years ago... so was I. I'm glad I've grown that appreciation on my mission.
I've now entered into my last 2 cycles.... to exactly 12 weeks left. I didn't get transferred and neither did my comp. Both of the elders i trained are joining us down in the Saratov zone. One of them is my new zone leader.... not sure how i feel about that. but all will be well.
Being on a mission isn't always fun. I'd even say that most of the time it's not. It'd been a lot more fun staying home and not going.
But the rewards of these 2 years FAR outweigh the fun could be had not serving. One of the biggest factors to me choosing to serve was that i knew I'd regret it my whole life if i chose not too. Now, having almost finished, I still agree with that reason. And i see how grateful I'll be for the rest of my life for my decision to serve a mission. If i had to make the decision again, I'd have no hesitations to serve. And well, I've still got time to do so!
I love you all! Hope everything goes well
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, April 9, 2012

Birthday Week...

The weather has been quite lovely the last couple of days. really foggy in the mornings and nice sunny and warm during the day. I've been enjoying it. But with nice weather people are out on their scooters and motorcycles... so i can't wait to take Scarlett out this summer.
We're looking forward to watching general conference (hopefully in English?) this next weekend, and coloring eggs in the morning. (for sure in English)
Nothing too exciting this week. We thought we were almost going to have an incident report on Saturday. We walked out of our apartment and heard a guy yelling "hey Americans!" usually when this happens its best to just ignore it and keep walking. So we did so. he yelled after us a few more times and started following us. We came to an intersection and he came up and starting yelling at my comp (who was doing a poor job of acting like he didn't notice). The guy was getting pretty rallied up so i decided to start talking to him. But he just wanted to talk to my comp. Finally i get my comp to reply to him... turns out... he was an investigator we had invited to go to the activity we were headed to! woops! I had never met him (being new here) but my companion has no excuses.
This last week (being my birthday week) we bought 6 kilos of ice cream. usually we get 1 each week. We ate it all and I'm trying to convince my companion we have the means to make this a weekly occurrence. I think I'm going to try and see just how much weight i can gain before i come home. I'm currently back up to my mtc weight :) (12lbs heavier than when i arrived)
I plan on running a lot when i get home....
well.... That's about all i got
The countdown hasn't started, but I'll see you 3 months from today.
love you all!
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Showers...

It's been raining a lot the last week. I usually love the rain... but not when I'm walking around in it trying to talk to Russians. Its pretty ineffective... and wet.
This week we went to Marx. Had a good ol' time with elder Berrett (we served in the same district up in Kazan) he's still trying to convince me to go home early to finish playing Banjo Kazooie (apparently i gave up on the last level) I told him I can wait 3 months... but when i do get home I'm going to have to get that out of my system right away. so have to N64 up and running with Banjo Kazooie put in!
Ok... maybe that's not my first priority. Definitely 2nd though.
These kids in here get pretty load when playing call of duty... swear word every other word... but i think that's because i only know about half the swear words.
Speaking of swear words, I got hit for the first time on my mission!
Crossed that off the bucket list! Saratov is the highest incident report area in all of Europe East Area. That's something cool to brag about. I haven't seen very many problems on my mission, so i was glad to get a glimpse. But like i said, i haven't seen very many problems.
Most can be avoided. And the guy didn't hit very hard... it put a smile on my face that day.
We also went to a opera this week for cultural night. I'm not a fan of operas.
Marx.... Marx is a little town. Russia is weird in that a town with 5x the population of Branson can seem 5x smaller. hooray for Russian doms. but i guess Bransons kinda a weird town.
Well I'm looking forward for conference... we don't get to watch it here til the 15th. So the anticipation is building. This week my comp is going on visa trip, so I'll be up in Saratov for a day or two. next week is the last week of this cycle. Time is flying.
well... speaking of time flying, gotta go!
i love you!
love Elder Ellis

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where's Waldo, I mean Dustin?

(Hint- Yellow tie)
Not a whole new lot going on here in Engels. We've had a pretty good amount of lessons this last week and we're looking to have some good ones this week as well. We set up a baptism for June 20... so if I'm still here in Engels that'll probably be the last baptism of my mission. We have 2 that are planning to get baptised in April (we'll
see?) And we're hoping to set a goal for may with one lady. So, the work is rolling on.
Spring has been been creeping in and out. A warm day of sun followed by a cold snowy day. I got a little sick this week from walking around with wet feet for a day out in the chasni sector... (Russia housing consists of big giant apartment buildings for most of the population, and small houses on the outskirts of town.) Engels has a lot of houses being a smaller city. 250,000?
So after that day I've been pretty much sticking to my waterproof boots.
We went out to a members house and met with a few of their friends.
The husband (member) is in the mission presidency. They have a pretty big, but rather full house. Bigger than our house, but not as nice.
But still a nice house. The people they introduced us to know them because they have some sort of group that doesn't eat anything that is cooked. it was an interesting meal. Our stomachs are rather used to fried food so they haven't yet recovered from the change up.
This week we should be heading out to Marx (the other city in our
district) to do exchanges. Marx is the smallest city in the mission...
about 30,000. it's about 2 hours away from engels.
There's a less active member here who knows what Branson is! half my companions don't even realize what Branson is until i tell them that King of the Hill and The Simpsons both have Branson episodes.
well.... i love you!
Elder Ellis

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Fur Shapka...

Tomorrow is the beginning of spring! It's been WARM here (i think today is somewhere around 35-40!) And the streets are turning into muddy lakes... gotta love spring. We'll have about 3 weeks of this weather, 2 weeks of lovely weather, 3 weeks of hot (but not miserable), and then Summer should kick in full force after that. The whole time the streets will be muddy and the dead animals will start dethawing creating that lovely smell of Spring!
This last week was a pretty good one. I bought myself a nice birthday present.... a little early... but its the right time for shapka shopping! I got a nice big (understatement) fox fur shapka. Several weeks ago i saw it in Kazan for about 170 dollars. They were selling it here for 100 and i was able to talk them down to 65. Thanks for the gift! I love it. I'd send pictures, but i think its just much better to wait and see it in person.
Last week we also had zone conference. It was pretty good. Kinda weird being in the Saratov zone... (I've been able to avoid it for 20 months. But once you go south to the Saratov zone you don't have very good chances of getting out. So i think I'm here in Engels for good.
This week we've got exchanges with the zone leaders (I dread these) but i'll be spending most my time with Elder Anderson, so I'm not too bitter about it. Elder Anderson is from North Dakota and spent some time in the marines. I've enjoyed his company on visa trips before so i think i'll get by these next couple days.
We've been having meetings. A large percentage of the population here seems to be old communist men who claim atheism. most cities are more full of bobyshki that claim to be orthodox. There's definitely a lot less muslims here than in Kazan.
Well... i guess that's about the time i have i love you all and hope your enjoying spring I pinched my companion on saturday. I was wearing my green watch already.
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, March 12, 2012


Well... I've been out of Kazan for a week now... still haven't adapted yet.
The last time I've had to go somewhere I hadn't already been was last April (going to Kazan for the first time) So I'm not entirely used to not know anything about where I'm living and so on. I'm also not used to being a junior companion. It's actually pretty nice in a lot of instances, but my companion ( as 'new' as he is) is used to having to talk to everyone the whole time with little input from his companion.
So I've been silenced lately.
But, Elder Hill is a nice guy. It's been a pretty fun week serving with him and we'll just have to see how it goes.
I've not really met any of the members here (this last week was a holiday on Thursday, Friday was vacation as well, which makes Sunday a work day... so everyone was at work) 19 out of 40 or so active members came. So I'm looking forward to getting to know the members here in Engels.
This week we have Zone Conference. Should be interesting.
One of the nice things about being in Engels is I'm in the same district as Elder Berrett. He was in our district in Kazan for a while and i like him more than i do most the elders. Each generation of missionaries seem to have their different breeds. I haven't gotten accustomed to much of the younger missionaries. But I'm glad i can be 'near' (he's serving in marks.. 2 hours away) someone i get along with better. Ok, i get along with most, just not all of them do i like to get along with. (those Utah elders.... just kidding) Elder Hill and i are going to go hit up the market today and see what we can find. We gotta get a nice spatula to go with the nice pan i brought with me from Kazan. I might bring it home...It was free... so it's not really bought with MSF. It's a nice pan.
Well.... I'll update you next week on life in "The City of Engels"
(I'm apparently the only one that makes the connection between Engels and Angels) Hopefully it'll be warmer! It was warm in Kazan when i left, so I didn't pack my scarf. well... it's cold here!! but i should only have a week or so until it starts warming up for good... March 21st... the REAL start of spring... not the 1st as though among Russia.
love you all!
love, Elder Ellis

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day late, dollar short...

Sorry i wasn't able to write yesterday... and i am just gonna try to sneak in a quick e-mail cuz i haven't got much time this week. But, i finally have something to talk about. I got transferred. I'm sitting in saratov right now and in a few minutes I'll be going to get my stuff and heading over the former worlds' longest bridge to the "city of engels.' i assume it to be just like LA "the city of Angels" (pronounced almost the same) only this particular 'angel' happens to be a former communist leader of the soviet union. so... you can imagine the differences. I didn't really want to leave kazan... even if it meant i got to ride an overnight train (I'm one of the FEW missionaries to have not ridden one, and I've been here a year longer than MOST) ((it's just like i imagined it to be from Goldeneye!! just... less AK-47s and i don't have a laser watch to get out))
I'll be serving with Elder Hill from Albuquerque...... New Mexico. From what i know he's just the happiest person there is. I think it will be good. but we'll see!
I'll try to make sure to write a good amount next week :)
well, i do love you!
love Elder Ellis

Monday, February 27, 2012

Legendary Red Lada....

Typing up all the essays took up all my time to write home this week, (working on an application for BYU), but I'll try to be a little less brief than a few weeks ago.We are finally seeing a little success after having a special fast to help us find people to teach. So it's been a pretty good week. It's been warming up and snowing a lot lately. I think the legendary red lada outside of our apartment will finally get completely buried. I've come to realize how much the members here could benefit from studying the scriptures to learn their doctrine ("some" just like to make their own up...)
Transfers are coming up the end of this week... we're getting nervous.
If I'm here another cycle I'm going to try to learn a good amount of tatar. I wanted so badly to check this language on the application.
I found it funny that i couldn't find Russian in the P languages... (P is the equivalent of R is Pycckuu)
well, that's the time i got
love you!
love elder Ellis

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chirping Crows!

Hey family!
I'm glad you finally got a little bit of snow in Missouri! Ours here is starting to go away a little bit.. But it's not melting yet. They’ve just been chipping the ice of the sidewalks to reveal that we've been walking a good 14 inches off the ground the last month or so. It is getting warmer as well. The sun has been shining through the smoggy air, (we come in every night with our coats smelling like campfire) and the crows are chirping at the pigeons more. We're not having very much success in the work lately. Really not much at all, but hopefully that'll get changing soon.
When all you do is missionary work, and you don't have any one to teach, there's not a whole lot to talk about.I guess on the bright side... i have more time to read your emails. So I’ll just start replying to those more. or maybe we'll start having some success!
Well, gotta go
love, Elder Ellis

Monday, February 13, 2012


Sorry about last week's lack of a letter. I didn't have any time because i was trying to help my companion figure out how to send some pictures and then realized i had less than a minute left for my e-mail. Sorry.
Fortunately i didn't have much to say anyway! I guess that's not too fortunate, but at least you weren't left out.It's actually not been too terribly cold lately. it has been sunny and -12 over the weekend and it was pretty nice. Today jumped down to -24, but tomorrow should be back up to -14. This is a really mild winter for Russia. I think it’s because all the cold escaped over to the other European countries. They're suffering... but the Russians are enjoying the lovely spring weather. (Russian spring = normal Missouri winter) Last year at this time i remember it being around -30, with -36 being the lowest.
We haven't really had anyone to teach lately. We haven't been finding (even at -12 no one wants to stand around talking on the street) and all of our investigators we had high hopes for are just kinda busy. "Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach"... this has been holding through pretty well. I have the feeling i might be getting the ax at the end of this cycle. I’m ok with that i guess. I have to get cut off sometime, better when it's numb!
I was so excited to hear that our neighbor is from Kazan! And she knows tartan?! I'm so excited to talk to her! I only know a handful of tartan words (mostly from the announcements on the bus) but everyone says tartan is an easy language, and Americans can have good accents because we have the c'A't sound that not many languages do.
I had a visa trip this last week to Kiev. We didn't get to go to the temple, but i did work it out where i sat next to Elder Bearden on most the flights, so i was happy. And president bought us all TGI Fridays in the airport. i had some Spppiicccy wings. They were ok. i can tolerate spicy now. On the last flight i was sitting between 2 people speaking French to each other. Couldn’t understand a word! It’s weird to think that's what Russian used to be like for me.
This week the branch is having Mexican night... should be interesting. I'm not expecting any good Mexican food. but we're going to make enchiladas the day after to help our disappointed stomachs.
Well, that's they time i have this week!
Love you!
Love Elder Ellis!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not much this week...

Hello family!
So my internet time kinda got taken up this week so I will have to write next week!
All is going well though :)
love you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

February made me shiver!

Well, it's the end of January... and thus the end of our "nice weather"we've been around -10 to -15 (15 to 5?) for most of the last few weeks, but today we're at -20, (-5?) and it's just supposed to get colder. February is the real Russian winter. Here we go!The Sartoris came up this weekend to do apartment checks and visit the branch. We of course passed our apartment check. we only got marked off on not having any water (we have to buy water in the big 5 gallon jugs because the tap water will give you worms!) and we ran out the day before and planned to get some at dinner, but ended up not having dinner. Then it was sunday so we couldn't buy any. So this morning we were glad to finally have a cold glass of water. And it was COLD by the time we carried it home.
I don't have a lot of interesting things to say this week, or a lot of time, but i will share with you a neat experience about getting answers that we search for.
So, i have a few questions I’ve been trying to find answers for in my personal study. I've tried to find the answers in the scriptures, but if it’s in there it doesn't make sense to me. We also had a member who had some questions about finding answers, so I’ve been trying to prove God on the principle. Well, i haven't found the answer in my studying. (This may also be due the fact i can't read more than 10 minutes without falling asleep) but when the Sartoris came, they brought us mail. Of course, my GRAND mother has been writing me, and upon reading her letters i found she had answered my question!
Often our answers come in unexpected ways.
Elder Ellis

Monday, January 23, 2012

More of Kazan!

I'm staying in Kazan another cycle! My companion didn't get transferred either so I’ll still be with elder Johnson. i now only have 3 more transfers to avoid going somewhere else.We had a really good day of church yesterday. Our recent convert got the Mel. Priesthood and another man got the Aaronic. Everybody was really nice and nobody argued on any lessons. My companion looked over at me during priesthood and said "It's like we're in America!" because nobody was arguing about doctrine and then looking to us to tell them who is right. But soon after there was a little disagreement and my companion said "oh... never mind". i just asked him if he remembered elders' quorum in a family ward. We then agreed it was normal and a very good day in church.
I was a bit sick this week after having to run home about a mile to be on time. Running in -13 is not fun or healthy. But i think I’m better now... I’ve successfully passed it on to my companion!It’s been kinda cold. But not rather cold. Last year at this time was already below -20 consistently. The worst we've gotten is -15 (+5 F). It is a mild winter over here too.... but still kinda cold! we spent 6 hours the other day outside with -15. We were contacting someone who lives just on the outskirts of our area and there is only one bus that goes out there. We missed it by 3 minutes... so we ended up standing at the bus stop for way too long. The home doesn't exist.We've not really had any good lessons lately... Or many lessons at all. Well i guess i should say we haven't TAUGHT any lessons lately. We've sure been learning some though.
We went to the kremlin last Monday. it ended up being even better than last time. Except.... my companion discerned "do not shoot or handle fireworks, firearms, explosives or similar activities" to include crossbows. Dang!
Today we just cleaned.
Well, love you!
Elder Ellis

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cross bows, Pork Chops, and Karma...

Mama, keep feeding those missionaries! Your "feeding missionaries Karma" theory is working! Last week we had a family invite us over for dinner, and they made pork chops! And a secret family recipe for cake. We had a really good lesson with them after dinner and we have really high hopes for them in the coming weeks. They even want to take us skiing!!!! Unfortunately that's not allowed. I attribute our success with them to your diligence in spoiling the missionaries back home. It’s just the exchange rate is 30 to 1 from US to Russian.Let’s see if we can't get a referral karma going? i would like that :)
That's the good news
Bad news...Transfers at the end of the week. I'm afraid I’m going to get transferred. I've not been anywhere longer than 3 cycles and we haven't had the best indicators. My companion so far has been transferred every cycle. i don't know if that works for or against my staying in Kazan. I'm not against moving to a different area... just after we get this family baptized.
This week was pretty uneventful aside from our dinner. My district all had visa trips, so i ended up spending a day in Novo-k. I was able to drop by a man we baptized in May and he gave me a white rabbit fur shopka! I’ve not seen any like it. Unfortunately it sheds like mad. But I’m not complaining!
Today we're actually going to the Kremlin again. I'm looking forward to it. I don't think I’m going to convince my companion its ok to go to the cross bow gallery they have there though. Maybe next companion?
Well, time is pretty much up
i love you all!
Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, January 9, 2012

2nd Christmas...

Happy Birthday Kendra!Merry Christmas! The second Christmas came and went pretty silently (as it often does in Russia) but i was able to open Christmas gifts on it! (I got the packages from mom and GRAND mother) I’m savoring the white fudge Oreos!.... The banana bread.... well.... it was more of a bacteria colony by the time i got it. But that’s ok, i do know how to make it :)
I got so many toys for Christmas! it made me quite happy. It's hard to find time to play with them all, but it's me... I’ll find the time! (my companion and I spent maybe an hour last Monday unhatching all the dino pills Kendra gave me before i left... they're now filling our sink! we told the zone leaders they couldn't use the sink when they came because of them.)
The highlight of the week was probably the New Year’s part we had on the 6th. MANY came and also a lot of investigators and less actives (we had 8 non-members) one of our investigators came with her mom and they invited us over for dinner with their whole family tonight! We're way excited about it... we just hope they aren't serving fish.
At the activity we once again participated in the play. This time not as wise men, but as minions! We got to play with the really cool toy guns that all Russian kids seem to have. (In the summer i often duck behind cars to avoid being shot by the imaginary bullets that kids always shoot us with... that really bugged one of my companions)
Elder Johnson and i get along pretty well. And, we teach really well together.... if only we had more people to teach! (We’re not very good at finding people.... at least not the "1 a day" expectation.
We've seen a few snow boarders walking home from the slopes lately. And there are always cross country skiers around town. Makes me disappointed I’ll be getting home in summer and won't be able to go skiing right away. I'm jealous of your present mom. I'll take canoe trip though. In just 6 months. Not sure how i feel about hitting my 6 month left mark today.
I've really enjoyed reading the conference edition Liahona lately. I remember watching a few of them in Russian and feeling the spirit during the talks and thinking I’d really want to get the full meaning in English. (i understood a lot, just there’s always a little missing when it’s in another language). I've been reading some of those talks lately and I’m understanding why i felt such a strong spirit when i listened to conference. It's the exact things that our investigators and i need at this time. Conference really is such a blessing.
My comp has a visa trip this week, so i'll be heading down with him. Another week on the bus. I'll be working in good ol' Novo-k while I’m down there. Hopefully I’ll see a couple members that i like from that branch when I’m there.
well, that's the time for today
love you all!
love, Elder Ellis

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Pictures as promised!

Happy 2012!My companion is started to get a little nervous for next December... not so much that he thinks the world is going to end... just a lot of Russians do. Fortunately I’ll be back in America when "the end of the world" rolls around.

Not a whole lot went on this week... Especially as far as meetings or finding new people to teach. We did have one meeting with an investigator! The curse is lifting? I think it's called "after the new year" curse. At least that's what I’m hoping it was.It's weird to think about that i spent all of 2011 out of America. I would say in Russia, but I’ve also been in Lithuania and Ukraine on visa trips.

I sent some pictures, hope you got them! They actually took up most of my time for today :/sorry so short, but pictures are worth 1000 words right?

love,Elder Ellis