Monday, June 27, 2011


Wow, we gots some long emails to look through here!! Just the way I like 'em! So, it's good to hear from you, as always! I got the package, THANK YOU MOM. I loved the pictures!! That may have been the favorite part of the package, next to the tie and the CD. YOU'RE ALL GROWED UP. I'm starting to realize how different we all are. I've been out for a considerable time now, I'm just realizing... Anyways, thank you Patrick. He picked out that tie as a joke, but it's actually a pretty spicy tie. I'm wearing it this very moment. And as usual, I've eaten almost all the goodies, already. Everything except the popcorn and cake. That was a good package!! I laughed when I heard the Gondoliers song on the MOTAB CD. That CD has got some really cool stuff on it and I've already been listening to it a lot. I won't lie, I've taken a liking to the good ole Mormon Choir. That was a good choice. I wouldn't mind getting more stuff like that. Maybe you could send Heavensong for christmas or something. I'm a nerd. But that's okay. The moral of the story is THANK YOU MOM AND FAMILY. I APPROVE! Also, it was dang fun reading through Sam's memories of dad. That brought back a huge rush of memories. I remember how dad cried while he was reading Where the Red Fern Grows and mom made fun of him. I also remember dad holding up Patrick at the top of the stairs and saying SIMBAAAA and me and sam acted like elephants and zebras. Anyways, I could go on forever. I said it last week but I'll say it again, happy father's day!

This week was a little fun. I was with Elder Brewer from Monday until Thursday morning while we were waiting for our companions to come down from Samara on a train. There's been a crazy sickness going literally all throughout the mission, and I caught it on Monday night. We were out contacting all night, and then I started losing my voice, and then by Tuesday I was all congested. But we worked anyway, then there was this big rainstorm that Elder Brewer got caught in while working way up in his area with nowhere to run to, so we got soaking wet. So on Wednesday, I was out all day long. I'm over it by now, though. That was really the first time I've been really sick on my mission. I've never had to stay in and sleep for an entire day to recover. It's pretty miserable. Staying inside=spirit death. Sam will attest to that. Seems like she's been having a bit of that going on. I'm glad to hear that you're back in it, though, Samalama. On Thursday Morning, all the new missionaries showed up in Saratov on a train with Elder Hollingshead. Now I'm serving with a kid from Centerville. Pretty dang fun. I'm learning a ton, too. He got called to be a trainer his second cycle, then assistant to the president his third cycle, which means he was assistant to the president for pretty much his entire mission until now. It's also his last cycle. Which means I will be killing my second companion. Mission death is a strange thing. It's fun, though, he's not trunky at all. We had a really unsuccessful week up until thursday because I got sick, but once my new companion got here we tore it up and turned it into one of the more successful weeks I've had recently. I'm really stoked for this cycle. We've got some really good things going on here in Volzhski. And in our Zone. It looks like Elder Hollingshead and I are gonna be baptizing a family before he heads out on August 1st. We went over to a member's house and he and his wife are working to introduce us to their friends. They're family friends, kind of like when we were back in West Jordan and always did stuff with the Knowles. It's really amazing because they've got a family of 5 kids, which is unheard of for Russia. Seriously that's crazy. People with 2 kids are considered a full family, just because all the apartments here are tiny, and it's really hard to support a family on the kind wages here, usually. We went over and talked to them for a few minutes, and they seem really awesome. I'm stoked to work with them.

Man, this is lookin like a pretty lame email, but I can't think of much to say. I'm loving life. There's not much new here. It's kind of flying by super-fast, to be honest. One more week and we'll be on a train back up to Samara for Zone Leader Council with President. WHERE DID JUNE GO? I'm starting to realize that we're in the midst of summer. Feels like it's just getting started. Soon we're going to be getting ready to get back into winter and then I'll be where I was last year (feels like 2 months ago I was back with Elder Barton being trained). This is really a lame email, I'm so sorry. But I already have to wrap up. I'm sorry I didn't give a good email this time! Things are good. I love Russia, and I love testifying to random people on the street about our Savior every day. That's a privilege that we shouldn't even be considered worthy to have. That's what I love, and I know I'm not always going to be able to do that. I love you! I miss you a lot. You're emails and letters and prayers do me good! You're also in my prayers. LOOOOOVVVEEEE


Monday, June 13, 2011

A MOM's best gift from russia!

A sister in Russia sent over 100 photos from Alex's camera this week! PAY DIRT for the family at home... just had to share some of our favorites!


Hey everyone!

We kicked this week's bottom. It was a really amazing week. It's weird, I've noticed on my mission that I go through rough spots right when everyone else does, even though it's not connected at all. And the other way around, life is good for everyone at the same time, it seems like. I remember in February there was lots of hard stuff going on for me, and when I got letters from home it seemed like there was lots of hard stuff going on there, too. Not just for family, either. Kind of sort of same thing for last month (May). BUT, life is so good. I loved your email this week, it really reminded me of the good timez. It sounds like everybody is verr happay. Man, I love you so much! I have the best family on the earth. I got a whole bunch of letters this week, all from you. I eat that stuff up. Everybody is growing up and it's so weird. I LOVE that we have one boy in each priesthood quorum. That's pretty amazing, I think. Dad writes once a week and sends 'em, so when I get a bunch of mail about once a month, I've always got a little stock of letters with spiritual thoughts to go through. This week we had a Zone Conference and so all the mail from the office came down to Saratov. I haven't gotten a B-day package yet, but it might just barely be getting here and sitting in the office. I did get the book, by the by! Thanks mammy! Or dad, I don't know who's idea it was. I'll have to get some permission to read it because it's not part of the missionary library, but I'm sure they'll let me use it. That could really help me out, having all those examples and object lessons. Spot on, old chap. Spot on. Sam, I'm really sorry to hear about your companion! I hope things get working out. I'm realizing that I haven't really had a hard companion so far. There have been rough spots at times, but for the most part my companions have been great. And right now with Elder Barton, things are AWESOME. He's probably my favorite companion so far. Although it's hard to say, with Elder Bahr. And Kazakov. Man. I think you get hard companions because you're rock-solid. I really think your mission president trusts you. By the way I GOT YOUR LETTER. Thank you so much! I'm going to send you one today, I don't remember if I sent you one recently.

Man, what is new? I just feel real darn pumped up right now. Our Zone here in Saratov is exploding. We got a good amount of calls yesterday after church from missionaries all throughout the zone who were seeing a bunch of miracles. There was a lady who had a baptismal date who was meeting with the missionaries about a month ago but decided that nothing was going to help her so she stopped meeting with them. Then, yesterday, after a month with no contact, she showed up at church and said to the missionaries there that her life just got horrible once she stopped meeting, and that she realized that something big was missing. She took it as a big sign and told them that she wants to get baptized. There are a lot of other people who have fallen right into the missionaries' hands all throughout the zone, who are all very ready. Last Monday night, all our plans for the night fell through, and we just decided to find some people and have a prayer to know where to go. So we were contacting along a street by our house, and Elder Barton came up with the idea to stop by an auto shop. There's a man who works there that Elder Barton had talked to once or twice before I came to Saratov, and we decided it would be worth it to stop by and have a lesson with him. When we stopped by, he wasn't there, but there was a different guy there instead. He said that he had just started working there 2 days before, and that usually he never ever stayed in the shop as late as 7 o'clock. So that was a cool coincidence. We sat with him on the couch there and started talking to him in the shop. Once he found out we're Mormon, he got really interested because of a South Park episode he watched about Joseph Smith. So he ended up asking all the golden questions and got really interested and we taught him the entire first lesson. Thank you South Park? There was a calm feeling that came to the meeting when we talked about the first vision. I felt like I saw his face change when we started talking about that. He said that he doesn't believe in God because bad things happen to good people, but he softened up a lot after we talked to him about the Restoration. We went by a second time yesterday, about a week later, and he was excited to see us again. He wants us to come by whenever we want to chat because he says that he really likes talking with us. Our second lesson we talked a lot about Jesus Christ, about how everything that's unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement. We told him he could access that power through baptism, if he was willing to prepare for it. And he started asking, how do you get ready for baptism? And so we set a baptismal date with him for July 2nd, and now he's reading the Book of Mormon. It was amazing! At the end of the lesson he just kept telling us how much he loved talking to us because he feels really positive afterwards. That's a huge change! At first, he was saying that he would never really want to come to church, and that he doesn't believe in God, but after just two lessons, he's thinking about it and he even agreed to come to church next Sunday, and to get baptised in a few weeks! I feel like he was really led straight to us. Or us to him. The coincidences, man.

Anyways, sorry I spent so much time on that. That was a highlight. Another highlight was both zone leader council in Samara and zone conference. Conference was amazing! President talked about obedience in relation to the temple. He talked about some of the things that we covenanted to do when we were in the temple, and how they relate to missionary work. A mission is the perfect setting to prove to the Lord that you're willing to follow your temple covenants. When you are on a mission, you consecrate yourself for service to the Lord, and in doing so, you live by your temple covenants. Cool connection, right? Elder Barton and I were able to teach a break-out lesson after that, and a lot of missionaries said that it was really what they needed to hear. Which is cool because we had a few really cool WOW--REVELATION moments while we were preparing the lesson.

It's been a miraculous week! Life is sooooo gooooood. I love you so much, again. I'm thinking about how much my mission has already blessed me, and how much it has blessed us to come closer as a family. I'm with Sam, this is everything. You boys have no idea, seriously, what you're getting yourselves into. Don't you dare pass this up. Don't do it for Mom or Dad or the Bishop, do it for you, and for God. It will make you so happy, I can't even explain it. I love you! I pray for you all the time.


Monday, June 6, 2011


Hello family!! Well I have two things to say real quick. First of all, the assistants just called down and they want us to write home to our families that you'll probably be hearing really soon that there was an explosion in Izhevsk, one of the cities in our mission. But don't worry about anything because all of the missionaries and members are safe, including the 2 elders serving in that city. Just so you know. Also, mom is all worried about my veggie/fruit intake. Haha. I just want to let you know that I eat more fruits and veggies that most other missionaries in our mission, thanks to my last companion. We ate like we were in Chile or something. Vladimir Nikolaovich, my favorite church member in this branch, told me last night about the Europe E-Coli thing, so I heard about that, but I haven't noticed a difference at all. We haven't been grocery shopping this week yet, but all the produce stands on the streets look norm. I am looking forward to some vitamins, though... I lost my bottle when I got transferred from Samara. But I'll probably just hold on to the fish oil until it starts getting dark... The summer here is nuts. I woke up at 5:15 the other morning and it was already completely bright. And it doesn't get dark until 10 at night. But winter is complete opposite, the sun goes down at 3 in the afternoon sometimes. Anyways. One time Chris told me about fish-oil-pill burps. Num nums!

But how's life? How's my trunky wunky sister? It's so weird to me that you've already got school registration going on. You're in it for the last stretch. That blows my mind! People say that the first six months is just surviving (true), then the second six months is acquiring skills and really getting to be the kind of missionary you want to be (also true, so far), and then the last year is just flying (I assume true). Of course, one of the biggest things I've learned so far is that you never ever ever "get there." There's always a whole pile of stuff you just wish you were way better at. That was one of the misconceptions I had about a mission when I first came out. I always thought Oh won't everything be just great when I'm 6 months in and I've "got" the language and I'm just cruising? You've never cruising, though, or at least you shouldn't be. I think the day I'm a perfect missionary will be the day I've died and I'm waiting in front of the JUDGEMENT BAR. I even hope I'll be ready by then. Because if you want to be a perfect missionary you have to be a perfect person. Probably. (I couldn't resist typing JUDGEMENT BAR in all caps.) But enough rant. Sam you're not trunky! That was a joke. It seems like you're one of the sisters that your president really trusts. Because I'm just finding out that training is a big deal. Also, from what I read, you seem like you're really in the groove of things and ripping up your area! Keep on keeping on. You're gonna be awesome right up until the end! And then I'll call home for Christmas and you'll already be there.... weeeeeiiirrrddd. Maybe we'll get to skype again. Man. That'd be weird.

So things are going good. That email last week from home had a whole bunch of news that I'm trying to process. I think it's waaaay cool that Megan's going on a mission. And Kim! It will be dang cool to find out where they go! How's Tyson doing? Pass that boy a hello. Also, tell him that last night I was walking down the street and I saw 5 or 6 Russians get out of 2 different cars, and they were all wearing blue camoflauge and a couple of them had AK's. I didn't really think much of it until I realized that Tyson would think it was the coolest thing ever haha. I always see these old Soviet Union army trucks and think to myself man, there's a bunch of Russian dudes hiding in the back and they're going to jump out and fight with James Bond. You think I'd be over it by now, but it really is strange how much I'm reminded of James Bond by stuff on the street. I'm glad to hear things are going good, though. Do you have any plans for the summer? It was probably good timing for you to quit work right before everyone got out. The kids are old enough and now you can go lots of fun places for the summer. Don't get too carried away with extra stuff! Stick at home! I regret not doing that. If you haven't gone to Logan yet, pass on a hello to all the Hyrumites and Loganites (and Providincites and Hyde-Parkites??).

What happened this week? Sorry I've only got 2 minutes left to write, I spent a lot of time going over your emails. Last week was normal we had one set of exchanges with a trainer and his trainee. Other than that, we were in our own area, which was good. Most of our investigators have gotten "too busy" to meet. We're putting a new focus on working with inactives to really strengthen the branch. We want to make a difference while we're here, so that the branch is bigger than when we left it! And it's already time for me to get off the computer!! agggghhh!!! I love you all so much and pray for you all! Keep on keepin' on!!