Monday, February 28, 2011


HEY EVERYONE it looks like mom and dad got my mail so that's good. I got a flood of mail from err body and that made me real real happy. Lots and lots and lots and lots of news including more friends getting married (LEVI AND ALLISON--ЧЕГО!?!?) and my Bishop's getting old and Caleb felt the Spirit and you guys finally got my package and Carol moved and BRYANT'S GOING TO RUSSIA man that's so awesome i'm so excited for him and I can't even keep up with everything I just read so I hope no one's offended by me not mentioning them. MAN LIFE IS GRAZY. That's good and crazy at the same time. See what I did there?


What do I write about. I'm in this internet gaming club right now and the keyboard is really hard to type on. And I only have 13 minutes left before this comp times out, after organizing all the mail and stuff. Dang dang dang where do I start? Okay, this week went by faster than last week. It was a real good week. Elders Kuzmin and Kazakov had do both be at Nikita's baptism interview, so me and Elder Bahr went on splits. It was dang fun because we were both kind of lost (he was my MTC companion). Man that was fun. We were on our way to addresses and Elder Bahr felt prompted to change plans and knock a certain apartment building. We went to the top and talked to an atheist who was excited about talking to Americans. He was super nice to us and I really liked him but he didn't want to learn more. But we still got the chance to share the message. I realized that he wouldn't have had the chance to hear our message at all if it hadn't been me and Elder Bahr, because the only reason he listened is because we're american. Bahr followed that prompting and someone got to hear our testimonies, who otherwise would not have (especially because usually only Russian missionaries serve in Kazan). That's what it's like with Elder Bahr, he always goes through on promptings.

What else? Nikita got baptized. Man it was so dang good. OUR BRANCH HERE IS FROM HEAVEN. They're so dang amazing. Nikita's only nine, but he was all serious, and he also is really clever and made lots of people laugh with his comments. He reminds me a ton of Caleb. He even looks like Caleb except younger and he has a sweet Russian mullet. Work on growing one of those, okay Blubber? By the way, last night I thought about what time it was for you guys and realized you had a half hour before church starts for you, so I put up a prayer. I'm not sure why I felt to pray for Caleb specifically, but I learned today that he gave a talk. A talk sprinkled with a little bit of ALEX-BROTHER-PRAYER-POWER. Oh yeah man. I hope the talk went well, brotha.

Dang dang dang, less than five minutes I'M SORE or SORRY THAT I DIDN'T GET TO WRITE A LOT TODAY I'll make it up with a letter that will get to you sometime in June. THANK you all so much for the mail, man I wanted to write so much more. Kazan is awesome, I love this area and my companion, he speaks English with a Russian accent and (accordign to random people on the street) Russian with an American accent so it's always fun. We've got the world's best branch, a huge beautiful city, and -20 C weather OH YEAH. LIFE IS GOOD. by the way, happy first day of spring tomorrow (according to Russia).



MOM get on facebook ad accept mark's friend request he's from here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Alex's first transfer!

Hey so it looks like the email is working now. I don't know what went on but it was drivin me crazy. Maybe just this last time Sam you could forward this one to mom. If she gets this from me too, then we'll stop this nonsense of forwarding through you.

Sam, you're crazy. If you were an Elder you'd probably be an Assistant. It seems like every single email you write you've got a ton of crazy miracles. Not to mention that 10 lessons and 8 new investigators is somewhere around double of what we get on a good week. That's absolutely crazy, we got 4 new investigators this week and this was a good week for us as far as key indicators go. MAN good work. And that's crazy cool about the baptism. I love seeing people change like that. We had Sergei back in Old City who we just baptised who changed like that. He sat in jail for 9 years of his life, and now that he's married and baptised he's like a teddy bear. No joke, we met him outside the apartments last week and he helped an old lady walk across some ice before she fell. I LOVE IT. Good work. (PS I've never made an investigator cry. When I first got here, one of our members cried, but she was crying because the missionary I was replacing was gone. Man that was fun ha ha).

Man, where do I start. This week feels like it's lasted at least a month. First of all, I remember saying in my last email that there was a 99.9% chance that I'd be staying, but it turns out both me and Elder Barton got transfers. Totally crazy. So Elder Barton left to go be a zone leader for the Saratov Zone and I got shipped way up to Kazan. It's a HUGE city way up in the north, known as the promised land. I'm super lucky to be serving here, honestly. I'm the third non-native to serve in this area. It's a massive city and there are only 2 companionships serving here. Before I came it was Elders Kazakov and Lee (the first american to serve in Kazan), and Elders Meroninko and Bahr (the 2nd American, AND my MTC companion). Elders Meroninko and Lee both finished their missions at the end of the last transfer, and so they pulled me and Elder Kuzmin out of Togliatti to serve here. Elder Kuzmin was the Zone leader there, and he's an amazing missionary. He's with Bahr. And I'm here with Lee's old companion, Elder Kazakov. 2 years ago proselyting was illegal here. There are tons of muslims here and it's a really beautiful clean city with lots of amazing architecture and a river and all that good stuff. My companion is really great, he's from Novisibirsk Russia, and he knew my MTC teacher who served there on his mission. He speaks English a little bit better than I speak Russian, so communication isn't a problem. He's not lazy at all, so we're always busy, and he tells me to lead lessons sometimes which really helps my language skills. So I got a really really awesome transfer.

I've been here since Wednesday and it feels like I've been here forever because I'm still not in the know of Kazan. It's been kind of hard, to be honest. I know it will get better once I'm more in the routine here, though. It really doesn't help how huge this place is. It's ridiculous that we only have 4 missionaries here. We've had some good success this week, though. We met a knew lady who is friends with a member here. She's a 7th day adventist but she stopped going to them because she didn't like something there. She was talking with us on the lesson and she talked about how Christ knows all our pain because He already suffered everything for us, and then we shared Alma 7:11-12 with her and she thought it was cool that the Book of Mormon had that in there. She is really really interested and all the stuff she was talking about is perfectly in line with our doctrine, so far. We're excited to keep meeting with her. Then we've got Nikita, he's a 9 year old who's getting baptized this friday. Me and Elder Kuzmin taught him yesterday at church after all the meetings (there's only one branch in Kazan with about 50 people). And the branch is amazing here. I don't know if I mentioned that already. They're all super duper involved. I've already gotten to know lots of really amazing people.

Well how are things at home? I sent off a letter to Caleb, along with a program from a Russian sacrament meeting, and a picture of a cowboy fighting a Trex that I drew. I couldn't help myself. Russians don't have cowboys. Well my time is about up, and I hope everything's good! I love you guys a ton, hope to hear from you again soon! LOVE


Monday, February 14, 2011

okay now he's e-mailing...

Well, Sam, I'm going to send this one only to you, and then I'm going to send this again in a different email to mom. Will you forward this one to her too? I don't know what's going on with the stupid computer, but I don't want errbody at home to be worried. TANK U.

Anyways, how is life? Everything's awesome here. Actually this week kind of pounded us and it's good to have it all behind us, but we've also had some cool stuff happen this week. Cool good stuff and cool bad stuff. And when I say cool bad stuff I mean stuff that makes cool stories but was bad overall, namely when we got kicked out of a hospital by a crazy babushka. I'll get to that.

BUT FIRST I read a little snippet of the email from mom this week and she says I don't give enough detail about little things hahaha. I realized that all I do in my emails is send stories off to you guys. Part of the problem is we've been doing email wrong this whole time, that is, we've been spending time formatting and we realized that we could just copy and paste and then format our emails from you to print after we've written to you guys. But alas this letter will be a shorter one too because I had to figure out a way to get my past 2 emails to mom. I hope everything works out?! ANYWAYS I was going to give you details, mom. So, I guess about my companion, he's really cool. We got along super good these past 2 cycles. We got a call from President Sartori last night, and President told him that he's going to Saratov to be a Zone Leader! Craaaaaazy! That's the kind of trainer I had :D He's super great. But we joke about it because the past 2 nights we've both been trying to picture him as a Zone Leader and it's weird because I already know him so well. I tried to imagine what it would be like if I was just on splits with him. It's just different when you actually live with a companion. It's really funny to think about him being all serious in Saratov. We had a really good time. But he'll do awesome because we worked really hard and we've grown a lot the past 2 cycles.

As far as Old City... Well, actually, I guess it's not official because Elder Eyers (AP) hasn't called to tell us about transfers yet, and the only thing President told us was that Barton was leaving to be a zone leader--we don't know when exactly they're gonna pick him up, or who's going to come here and be my new companion, or if I'm going to even stay here (even though I'm about 99.9% sure of that). So I'm pretty sure I'll still be here, which is awesome. I feel like Elder Barton has just handed down a kingdom to me, because I know where everything is in our area, and I know all the members and who the investigators are and where the work is going. It's super crazy to compare that to where I was when I first got here. I've learned a ton. I really love this area.

We've got a lot of good things going too. Sergei and Katya were just baptized and they're already sharing the gospel with their neighbors. We've put a lot of work into other contacts, too, and we contacted Oleg this week, our newest investigator with a baptismal date. And we have tons of people we met on the street with who we're going to meet with (as soon as they're not working 24/7. Sometimes I wish people were bums and didn't work. I'm sure Sam knows exactly what I'm talking about).

So I've got a quick story before I sign off. Yesterday morning at 5 we got a call from Sergei, our newest member. He said his 2-month pregnant wife was in the hospital and he had no one to turn to and stuff and he wanted to come over, but that's illegal for missionaries. So we waited until 6:30 when we were allowed to go on the street and tried to figure out how we could get in touch with them and visit. They don't have a cell phone, and we have no idea which hospital they were in. All we knew is Katya was somewhere in a hospital. To make a long story short, we tracked her down. The old lady at the front desk was all nice to us and showed us where she was. She was there alone, because Sergei had gone somewhere else to get something for here, apparently. (By the way, that was my second time in a Russian hospital. They're pretty gnarly. It's a fun experience if you ever get the chance). So we sat down to talk to Katya, and then the lady from the front desk pulled Katya out into the hall and started talking to her. She said stuff like "If you want to live, don't talk to people like that!! If you love God, you've got to send them off!!" And of course we heard the whole thing. Then she came back in and said stuff like "What sect are you from?!" (p.s. sect is really diminuitive in Russian when you're talking about churches. It's kind of like "cult." The Russian Orthodox Church has made sure to get it in everyone's minds that Mormons are "sectanti"). And she said "What are you doing in our country?! You're living off our money!!" and stuff like that. Then she grabbed me by the arm and pulled me up out of the chair and started shoving us out, even though Katya was objecting. We said we're just here to visit our sick friend, we're not doing anything wrong. And I remember thinking Are we seriously getting this in a hospital? Stuff like that happens all the time while we're actually contacting, but we were just trying to visit our friend. So she prodded and yelled and pushed all the way down three flights of stairs, and we calmly went, and tried to explain, but she was crazy. She shoved us out and slammed the door. So Katya grabbed her stuff and came out and talked to us for a bit after that. Then after that, she went back in to rest. While we were walking away the crazy babushka came out a started screaming at us again. It was kind of funny actually cause she was acting like a kid, she said "Oh look at me I'm a little American and I don't even know which way to go!!" So I kind of laughed at that. And we said "have a nice day!" and went to church. We talked to Sergei later and he said he went to the hospital and explained us, so we're going back today to visit. Haha, we'll see how it goes.

Well that's all. I hope everything's still good, and I hope you get this!! I love you guys to pieces!!


Sunday, February 13, 2011


last weeks mail that wouldn't send
Man I love you guys. I love how fast you type too. Mom sent a long email and then said she'd been typing forever. Then Sam sent a longer email and said she'd been typing only an hour. And send pictures. HA I don't know how you do it but I love it. Man I LOVE hearing from both of you! I get to hear all of Sam's mission stories and Mom's insights and the news about the family and all that. I skimmed mom's email real fast and she said "Grandpa got tired in Hawaii. He helped build a brick wall and got PLUM TUCKERED out." That made me laugh so hard for some reason. I think it's because now that I'm seeing what Russian is like with all its weird sayings, I can just imagine a Russian who knows English (aka Elder Kuzmin) giving me a super confused look when I say "plum tuckered." Also, I get a kick out of little things. Here's an example. We got a referral from Anna (armenian new convert) of these two Armenian twins, and their names are Samvel and Mamvel. I can't say it with a straight face! Samvel and Mamvel. Hahaha even just typing it I cracked myself up. Man life is great. Anyways, I just spent a whole paragraph talking about lame stuff. But in short, I love hearing from you guys.
MOM thank you so much for sending off that cd. You're on the ball! Thank you so much also for adding little details about the kids when you write. I love hearing about the sports and school and little daily things. It's the little things! How's Mitchell Moss doing? I love that guy and I'm glad he's still visiting a lot. I want to go skiing when I get back, with him and Patrick (and hopefully Caleb and Seth, too). We got a ton of snow this past week and it was all powdery and perfect for skiing. Except there's no mountains in Russia, which is why "rollercoaster" in Spanish translates to "Russian Mountians." Nonsense!
I'm also glad to hear that Sam's got an awesome companion. That makes life so awesome when you've got a great companion! Especially being a trainer, that's got to make life easy. I hear about missionaries in our mission who trained their 2nd and 3rd cycles and it blows my mind. Training in the first place must be super scary.

So on to the spiritual stuff. This week was nuts. We had transfers again, and I was with Elder Yates/Derby from California and then with Elder Anderson from Norway. That was pretty fun, I always learn a ton from other missionaries. Also this week, we had Sergei and Katya (that young couple I wrote about last week) get baptized. At the beginning of the week, he was feeling like he wasn't ready because even though he wasn't smoking at all, he still had a desire to smoke. We had some miracle lessons with him and explained to him that once he got baptized he would get extra help from the Lord, especially once he got the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We were able to promise him that the Lord would help him change his desires as he continued to prepare for baptism, even though there was a ton of opposition. Man it was so dang cool. After we confirmed him yesterday, he just kinda sat in the chair and looked around. Then we talked to him later and he said "I couldn't get myself to stand up! I was trying so hard but my body wouldn't move!" And during Sunday School he pretty much started prophesying. Not really, but he gave a lot of input and quoted the Bible and stuff, and listening to him talk you could just tell he has a rock solid testimony. Katya is amazing, too. She's been a super good influence on him, because he's had a crazy hard life. He started smoking since he was 8, and he sat in jail for a while at one point. Katya kind of turned him around, and she played a huge part in preparing him for when he met the missionaries on the street for the first time. I want to send pictures of the baptism but I ain't got a ton of time, and I also didn't get very many good ones because Rada was taking the picture for me. By the way, pass a hello to Elder Smoot from Rada of Old City Togliatti. She had lots and lots of good stuff to say about Brady and she even asked if he was married already. Hyuk hyuk. (I said YES by the way, nothing to worry about.) At least tell Pres. and Sis. Smoot, they'd probably get a kick out of it. This next week, we're going to contact this guy who's the son of one of the Babushkas in our ward, Sister Reisa. Apparently when the Petrunins were over teaching Sister Reisa, her son liked what he was hearing and he came in and said "I'm already fed up with drinking. You've gotta help me quit somehow." The Petrunins said We'll send the missionaries over! So that will be amazing if we can make it this week. His work schedule is crazy (according to Sis. Reisa) and she lives about 5 km from our apartment (and we would have to walk both ways). But we'll get to him for sure. Anways, that'll be great.

and now my time is up for sure and I haven't even sent pictures ahhhhhhhhhhhh! love you all bye