Monday, November 29, 2010

The first e-mail from Russia!

Alright. Man. I have so much to write. And some pictures to send. I got here and got right to work. The traveling over here was a craaaaaazy story and a ton happened.But here's a little bit of what happened. After I talked to you we got on the plane to New York. That was a really really relaxed and fun flight. The plane was almost empty and it was about half missionaries and half regular people. Then at the JFK airport in New York, we split with most of the people we were traveling with up until that point. From there it was about 8 of us. We barely had time to grab something to eat and then we had to board the flight to Moscow. I remember what it was like getting on that plane. We got on, and I looked around and realized I was completely surrounded by Russians. So me and maybe 5 other people on the plane were the only ones who didn't know Russian fluently. It was nuts.

We landed in Moscow, were received by some senior missionaries from the Moscow Mission, they drove us immediately to the embassy to get some passport stuff figured out, then we got something to eat, and then we checked in at the moscow airport. So after all that, about 7 or 8 hours had passed and we only had a couple of hours for our layover. also, by that time it was probably about 4 or 5 in the morning for you guys, but I didn't care, I was just going to call anyway, because all day long driving around in a crazy little marshutka van and being dead tired and hungry and smelly all I could think about was talking to you guys from Moscow!! But we got there and there weren't even payphones, so we had to go into another area. Then I found out that my card didn't even work! So we sat alone in Russia. That was pretty miserable for me to think about you waiting for a call and then not being able to call. I was really really glad when my mission president said he'd email you. President Sartori is fantastic. Seriously, I can't tell you how awesome he is. Our first interview was amazing.

While I was waiting in Moscow, I talked to a guy named Tmer who's had a really hard life. He was super skeptical and my Russian was really bad but it was an amazing experience because by the end I felt like we were friends and he was really considering what I was saying. I didn't have a passalong card with a phone number on it though. I asked for his number then, and he said he'd give it to me if I could be the one who he talked with. But he was headed to a city called Murmansk, which is up by St. Petersburg and nowhere near Samara. So I told him he could meet with other missionaries, but he didn't want to. I told him if he changed his mind that he should look for other guys with nametags, and he said he'd think about it. I really really want him to find some missionaries but none of it is in my power now.

Oi, I've already used most of my time talking about traveling. I only have a couple minutes left. I've met lots of investigators and we had a baptism on Saturday and it was a crazy day. Russia is really crazy and a lot different from what I've expected, but I've started to get used to it and talk to more people. I can tell you more about the culture and stuff later. I'll have to tell you more about my first week in a letter home or something. It's been a little hard for me but already I've learned a lot and I'm realizing how much lies ahead! This is going to be the best.

I love you guys. Really really really I do. I miss you all a lot and I think about peaceful happy safe Centerville every day. I'm fine here, though. Don't worry about me, momma, we got everything figured out as far as clothes goes. We're going to the Rinok to buy a coat today. I've been perfectly warm here. All the stuff I sent home I really didn't need. I'm pulling out a few hundred dollars today but then we'll get all settled in. just don't be surprised if my account drops for a bit.

It's time for me to go. I'll send pictures next week! Also, i didn't read sam's email so i'm going to print if off and respond next week. ahh this is crazy I wish I could write more! I love you guys!! Stay safe at home!

Love Alex

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

He's in the MOTHERLAND!

Merkley came up for his call from Moscow that never happened. We were up all night waiting but thankfully all is well and he has landed!

Here is the e-mail that came from his mission mom!
Dear Bro. & Sis. Morris,

Elder Morris arrived late last night/early this a.m. in the Russia Samara Mission. He wanted to let you know that his card did not work in Moscow when he tried to call you while in the airport. His flight was delayed/changed, but we met them in our Samara Airport. We were able to visit with him and get to know him on the hour drive from the airport to the Mission Home. This morning we spent breakfast with him, orienting him to our mission and President had a great interview with him. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful elder to come to our mission. We are so excited to be able to serve with him. He has touched our hearts.

P-day is on Mondays. He will e-mail that day.
Elder Morris will be serving in our Old City area in our Toliatti Zone. This is a 1 1/2 hour drive by car from the Mission Office and Mission Home. We have a mission driver who is fantastic and such a wonderful man who helps us take care of our missionaries. Elder Barton will be Elder Morris' trainer and we couldn't have him in better hands. Elder Barton will appreciate the obedience of Elder Morris which has already been displayed in a very humble manner.

Attached you will find pictures of him with us.

President & Sister Sartori
Russia Samara Mission.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Last days at the MTC!


Sam you said you hadn't heard from me so I must have forgotten to address my last email to you as well as mom. Also, I just got your mail and I cracked up forever about that support my business sticker. Seriously I thought it was the funniest thing ever and I'm so glad you recognized my sense of humor in that photo with the crazy old lady with the onions. Hahaha. Alsok, (also+ok=typo) I'm so glad to hear that you're ripping in up out there. Seriously, I can't tell you how it has blessed me to have an older sister serving at the same time as me. And I think both of us serving is a blessing for the family back home... I have to tell you mom that when you told me about Levi coming over I almost cried. For reals, that was some of the best news ever. I mean, of course I knew he would visit while I'm gone, but it was just a reminder for me that you're someone he goes to, even when I'm not there. Same with Chris, I love hearing about how you still get to see him. I don't hear from either of them, but I try to write them every week, and it's a blessing for me to know that my mom cares about my best friends. Man, that was a great email, mom. It killed me because I read Sam's email first today and it was just a bunch of responses to all the stuff you had said in your email so I felt really out of the loop for a few seconds. And I'm SO EXCITED for you and dad to serve in 2021. That's going to be AMAZING. Mom and Dad, they need people like you out here. Look at all the ways you "fellowship" all our friends, and all the missionaries that come by. You're probably more of a mission couple to those missionaries than most of the couples who are already set apart. You're going to be amazing out there and I can't wait. I love the idea of you two on a mission and I know you'll eat it up, mom. Seriously, mom, this mission stuff for you. And Dad will be PERFECT for the field. I echo Sam, Dad really is a scholar. He's got so much wisdom that will help out all the missionaries out here. So PROPS.

Ahhh I really am sad because I don't have a lot of time to write about the other stuff in your email; It's so good to hear about the family back home. I can just picture the boys up late for a risk bash! I really do miss the family time. Agh I need to take the last 8 minutes writing about travel plans so we're all on the same page. I'll send you a good letter, though, for sure.

Okay, so it turns out that I'm actually leaving on Monday instead of Thursday (Thanksgiving). So I'm really sad about that, because I won't get to talk to everybody. But I'm TOO EXCITED for Russia. We've been spending more time talking about life in the field because we're going there so soon and it's getting me way too stoked. CAN'T WAIT. ANYWAY I need to get on with this. So we leave the MTC at about 5 in the morning on Monday the 22nd. Our flight from the Salt Lake airport leaves at 8:35 am, so I'm not sure if that would be the best time to call? I don't know how much time I'll have sitting around at the airport, but whenever I have free time I will call for sure. Anyways, from 8:35 on to 3:18 (New York time) I'm on a plane to the New York Kennedy airport. I only have an hour layover from there to take care of all my stuff and get on the plane to Moscow, so chances are I won't be calling from New York (but once again, whenever I have free time I'll be calling). Then from 4:25 pm (NY time) to 10:10 am (Russia time) I'm on the plane to Moscow. There, I have over twelve hours before the next plane to Samara. I'm not sure how international calling works from the airport or whatever, but if I have to use the calling card I think I might... We'll figure something out. I just want to make sure I get to talk to you all sometime. So then, at 9:30 pm (Russian time?) on the 23rd I get on my next plane, and I get to Samara at 11:10 pm (Russian time).

That's my flight plans. I'm sorry this was a boring email, and I'm sorry that I'm not going to be leaving actually on Thanksgiving. But I'll get some awesome letters headed both home and to Chile to make up for this lame email because I only have 20 seconds left on the timer and I took forever to read the other two eamaalalls aaashheragilsh;alsn;i;e1n2i3LOVE YOU BY

Friday, November 12, 2010


Alright, end of week 8. This is so crazy how fast it's going here. Here's how it goes: Your first week you show up and you look around with wide eyes and say "this is never going to end." And after a week or two you settle in and get used to missionary life and you sit back and say "this is never really going to end," and you're okay with that and really happy to be here. And then (as Bro. Wood says) it's over and you already miss life on the mission! I feel like there's a little mini-version of that process here in the MTC, sort of. The weeks fly but I'm never really going to be in the Motherland (even though I've got three weeks left and I get travel plans NEXT WEEK. boom.) I'm extremely excited, though. And I've got my work cut out for me for the next few weeks. We just learned our official last new Russian grammar principle, so for the next few weeks it's just practice practice practice and reviewing what we've learned so we can actually apply it. So that will be fun.

How was All Hallow's Eve?! It was a regular day here. Nothing different happened, but it was an awesome day. I lurve sundays in the MTC. This week they resumed Temple walks on Sundays so me and my companion were able to walk around for a bit and have some meaningful scripture study. Sam will know what I'm talking about when I say this, but you family back home have NO IDEA the kind of things you learn when you're studying the scriptures literally all day. It's pretty awesome because there's nothing at all to distract from that (for the most part). I mean, there aren't any other aspects of your life that you have to really tend to, so you can just think about it all the time. It's taking over my liiiiffeeee but that's probably a good thing and I like it so there.

Anyways, I'm so sorry to hear about cute li'l Hopey being sick over Halloween! That's so sad for her. Little Nadyezhda. Li'l Nadya. (znachit Hope po-rooski). I'm really going to call hope that from now on because Russian names are the coolest thing ever. I wrote in my letter home about it a little bit, but this is for Sam: So apparently they name their kids things like Hope and Charity and Faith, but also they name some of their daughters Love (Lyubohv), and there's even a male name which translates literally to "Eternal Glory" (Vyechaslav). Is that not the most passionate culture you've ever heard of??! I'm gonna love it there, I can't wait. Three weeks!

The MTC is great though. Life goes by fast. I swear the weeks only last two days each. Do you remember the Devotionals?? That was one thing dad said I would really like and I LOVE them. My district got to do the ushering last week for when Elder Scott came (which means we got to sit on the second row), and some missionaries from a district in our zone got to give the opening and closing prayers (which means they sat on the stand). YEAH. It was great. He talked all about how to gain the spirit, and gave all the districts these handouts with interesting points about spiritual guidance and promptings. I couldn't write fast enough to keep up! I love the devotionals.