Monday, July 25, 2011

Zone Conference this last week with a sweet note from his mission mom!

Here is the e-mail...
Hey everyone!

I just have 2 things to say real quick. 1st, WE BAPTIZED EXXX. If paige woodward ever reads the blog, tell her that I baptized her little brother. I try to get some pictures sent from the baptism of me and my companion with PXXX and his family. Heh heh. 2nd, ALLISON'S BABY IS DUE ON MY YEAR MARK. Not a coincidence. Now you have to name him Elder Rutherford Alexander Elswood Morris IV. But I digress!

So, this week was amazing. We're really on track for our zone goal. I don't know if that means anything to anyone, but we've been killing ouselves to pull everything together for the July 7 baptisms. Our missionaries here are rockstars, we've got a killer zone. But the biggest thing is all the little miracle-investigators that popped up out of nowhere. Yesterday IXXX got baptized. She was the one down in ZXXX who called Elder MXXX out of nowhere. We had lots of investigators at EXXX's baptism last saturday. TXXX, the woman who broke her foot the day before I did was there. We did splits and so I was able to teach her with Elder BXXX after EXXX's baptismal service. That was awesome because for some reason I really get along with that investigator. She said that while she was at the baptism she felt something she has never felt before at any other church. We explained that the mission of the Holy Ghost is to help people come to know truth, and that the feeling she had was probably an answer that this is what she needs. She's accepting everything really well and we blew threw a lot of her big concerns that lesson by teaching some simple restored doctrine about the nature of the Godhead. Moments like that are what make a mission worth it.

EXXX is the man. He got confirmed yesterday and stayed at church for all three hours. That boy is going on a mission!! I want to make sure he gets ready because he's solid. Okay, so he's only twelve. He's so amazing though. The branch president had him come up and introduce himself over the pulpit after his confirmation (for some reason), and so he told how many people are in his family and what year he is in school. Then, president asked him to say what he likes to do with his free time, and EXXX said "I like to study the Bible and talk about it with my mom." I got a kick out of that. He's the coolest. We're going to stop by today because he's celebrating his 12th birthday and we promised we'd stop by for a half hour. Also, we're going to start working with his sister to get her baptized. That family's the best. That's my favorite part about the mission is the interaction with the investigators and the members. We have the largest branch in the mission (70-75 people) and I'm stoked because I know I've got at least one cycle left her in SXXX. All my other areas I've been kicked out after a cycle, but now I'm settling down here as the old king of SXXX. Zone Lord. Goodness gracious, Sam. It weirded me out when you said that until I read where it was from. Anyways, I'm loving this area/branch. I feel like I've got some really good bonds with members here. Lurve them.

This email is SO explicit. Way too many names. Sorry everyone.

Let's talk one more time about how Levi's little baby is going to be born on my year-mark of my mission. That's pretty dang cool.

Moving on. I'm not sure what else to say... We've got a lot going on this week. I'm going to be out of my area for a day and a half because we've got visa trips. I'm going to the Kyiv Temple. Cry cry. Seriously, this is a big day for me. I can't even imagine what it will be like when there's a temple in our mission. Saratov's making leaps and bounds towards a Stake right now... I'm feelin' the pressure... Man I want to stay here until the end of my mission. Which reminds me that I have a broken foot that mom wanted me to talk about. After I wrote last week, we went to a nice (nice) clinic where the doctors don't hate americans and they took care of me. They gave me a good diagnosis, told me where it's broken and stuff. It's just a tiny little fracture in the 3rd and 4th bones on the right side and it's healing up nicely. I've been starting to put weight on it while using the crutches and things are looking good. Give me about another week and a half and I'll be good! It hasn't held me back too much. I've been living in that huge apartment with Elder BXXX and LXXX and HXXX, and we just switch off going to different meetings in a taxi. I've been doing all the regular missionary work except for street contacting. Lame.

So that's all the time I have! Love you all so much!! Thanks for the gr8 emails. Pass a hello to Levi and Allison and Chris. I'll be sending some good letters off today... for the first time in a long time.... Tell hi to the brothers and hopers. I love my brosephs!! Keep those boys on track!! They're amazing!! (Hope too)



Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello everyone! Hello Seth! Happy Birthday!! I wish I would've sent you an awesome letter 2 weeks ago like I was planning!! Instead we were packing and moving to a new apartment last P-day. I still have a half-finished letter for Sam that I started working on on the 4th of July. No bueno muchachos. I'll try to be better, but this P-day is going to be a crazy one as well. I hope you has a good ole birthday. Sounds like it was a really fun week with the family reunion and all. The Harry Potter thing sounds like Caleb and Seth came up with it! Sounds really fun. I've seen a couple billboards for Гарри Поттер 7 around here, haha. It sounds so weird to hear Russians say English stuff like that. I remember the first time I ate at McDonald's in Russia, I thought it was hilarious that everything on the menu was just the original names with a Russian accent. But I digress! What a waste of email!! Don't you worry, Seth (and all siblings). I got some cool stuff for your birthday that I can give out when I get back.

So I don't really have a ton to write, to be completely honest. This week has been not so great because of the foot. It took us a really long time to get packed and moved in to our new apartment because I'm immobile without crutches, which means that I can't really help carry stuff anywhere. But the members here are amazing. I want to take them all home with me. They were having institute in the branch building the day that we were moving, and everyone came together and got all our stuff moved in way quick. It felt like when we moved into our Centerville home and all the Elders and Young Men in our ward came over and helped us move in. Bro. N even brought over his work van, so it fit all our stuff way easily. Really, that's probably been the best part of my mission so far, is working with all the members and seeing them in action. They're the best of the best here. I've noticed it a lot more since I've been in Saratov, because this was one of the first cities in Russia that the church was established in. The church is really strong here. On top of that, we get to serve in one of the best branches of our district (in my opinion). We've got a member of the 70, the District President, Elder and Sister K, and a bunch of other members that were among the first baptisms in Russia about 20 years go. They're all so amazing. But I digress! What a waste of email!!

Once we got all moved in, I just spent most of the day making calls from the Area Book every day with Elder B while Elder H and L were out on splits. There was one night where we set up a few meetings in the church building in the evening, so we took a taxi up there after lunch and just made calls for hours until the meetings. Then the meetings fell through and we made more calls! I shouldn't complain. It's actually been pretty good for me, probably. Plus this week we saw so many miracles in such a short amount of time. Literally within about 1 hour earlier this week, we had 3-4 baptisms just fall into our laps as a zone. That's huge because our goal for this month is 7, which we've been busting ourselves to try and accomplish. Here are some examples: First. A lady from a village about 100 km outside of Saratov called a companionship in our mission who she's never met. She said she has met with the missionaries about 2 months ago (before the transfer) and so she's been taught everything and been to church a couple times, but due to some testimony concerns she stopped meeting with the missionaries. Her words were "I've been praying all day about it and really thinking about it, and I realized today that I need to repent and be baptized. I want to drive in today and get baptized if I can." WOW. So the missionaries have made arrangements with the branch to help her get travel money to come in and get baptized, and also they've set up a fund for her so she can come to church at least 2X a month. Second Miracle. An investigator in another area broke her leg. Miracle! Just kidding, there's more. She works like crazy so even though she comes to church, she's never been able to meet with the missionaries. But now that she's sitting at home, one of the babushkas in that branch agreed to come over to her house every morning and study the Book of Mormon with her. The missionaries were able to meet with her, and she accepted the invitation to get baptized! That one's cool because Elder B and I found her while we were on exchanges in his ares. Third Miracle! This one's in our area. Elder H and L were talking to a girl on the street when a random lady walked up and said "Please pray for (name I forgot) and (name I forgot)" and then walked off. They chased her down, turns out she's a member who hasn't been to church for 6 years. We agreed to meet with her family. We went over there (H and I) and they are the most golden hearts on the face of the earth. She got a blessing and came back to church and they are back in action again. Also, none of her kids are members and her 12 year old son really wants to get baptized this Saturday. It just fell in our laps! It was such a huge testimony to me and God is looking out for all of His children. We really have no reason not to trust him. At the beginning of this week, we had no idea how our zone was supposed to get 7. But He turned everything around in literally 1 hour. It's been so amazing. But I digress!!!! What a waste of email!!!!!!!!

So my time is already up! I hope this email was okay to read. I kind of had fun writing it. Thanks for your support! I love you so much. I'm praying for you! I hope things are really going well there. Sam, rip it up!! You don't have much time left! I'm scared for you!!! But I digress! LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEEE


P.S. Mom, apparently Elder H's homecoming is the 14th, but I'll get back to you on where and what time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The rest of the story...


I knew that was bad news. I'm really sorry if you got worried! But the news is that I broke my foot. It also doesn't help that in Russian there's only one word that they use for both foot and leg. Anyways, it's not as bad as anyone is thinking. It's actually a really lame story. We live about 300 feet from our branch building, and we were on our way to church, carrying some boxes of Liahona magazines. Russian roads are a joke because they don't ever get repaired so they're all uneven. So I was crossing to street to the church, and I didn't see the huge pot-hole in the road because of the boxes, so I rolled my ankle really really hard and kind of felt a pop. And then got hit by a car. JOKE. I didn't even fall over, I just got to the other side of the street and then kind of limped another 100 feet to church and sat down. I thought it was norm, but then I blacked out while I was sitting down, which was weird. I also felt a little bump on the side of my foot. So nothing was wrong at all with my ankle. It's just a fracture in my foot or something. Nothing wrong with tendons or anything as far as I know. So it was great. Members were showing up and I was in the coat room laying on the floor with frozen veggies on my foot. They gave me a priesthood blessing, too, so everything was smooove. They called a doctor, he gave me a shot in the bum, which was weird, and checked my blood pressure, which was norm, and then they drove me to a clinic where they got an x-ray and put a cast on. Then we ordered a taxi and made it back for the last 10 minutes of sacrament meeting!!! We had a thing called Invitation Sunday that we had been planning for 2 months. It was a special sacrament meeting focused on simple doctrines about the Atonement. The point of it was to focus on non-members so that all the members would invite their friends. It turned out to be really successful--usually we get 3 or 4 investigators at church (in our branch of 65-70 members), but yesterday we had 10 nonmembers!!! Real glad we didn't miss that. We spent hours and hours making calls to get people to this thing. So there are the details for mommy. I'm really sorry you got worried about that. Everything is good, some members hooked me up with some crutches because the clinic didn't give me any. I've just got to stay off it for 3 weeks and then everything will be norm. Kind of a bummer because we're supposed to move into a new appartment this week. Also, Elder XXX only has 3 weeks left of his mission. So we're going to have Elders XXX and XXX move into our new apartment with us so they can take turns ripping it up with my companion and babysitting me. This actually works out good. So that's my story. Really anticlimactic story, right? Very unexciting. Except for the successful sacrament meeting. Yeah!!!

But enough of that boring stuff! I got your pictures!! Yeah!!! I looked through the pictures you sent with all the boys after that priesthood meeting. Goons!! I think the actual picture-taking makes more of a memory than the pictures themselves when you've got those four together. It was easy to see while looking through the pictures how impossible it is to get all four of them making norm faces in one picture. Tell Caleb for me that the face in the flower-pot was probably my favorite one. My boys are all grown-up looking. So weird that Pat is going to be a senior in a few short months! Is it weird that the first month of summer is already way gone? It's going by fast. So I didn't get much of a shot to read through any of the other news that you sent me because both the emails from mom and Sam were really long, but I did see that Justin is being ordained an Elder. That is awesome news!! I really wish I could be there. He's a solid kid, I can't wait to hear about his endowment. That really is a big event.

The mission is good. I don't have many specific stories to share. We were up in Samara for half the week and then the rest of our time we spent getting ready for Invitation Sunday, so we didn't have a ton of meetings or time on the street. OH I forgot to finish my story about XXX! So we gave him a church tour after we met him and his mom on the street. He loved everything and promised to come to church, which he did the next day. He also agreed to get baptized on the 30th!! He's such a humble man, completely willing to do anything that the Lord asks. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he started reading 2 chapters a day. He showed up at church the next day. It was testimony meeting (last week). He pulled me aside after the meeting to talk to me. On our first lesson we talked a lot about prayer and our relationship with Heavenly Father as His children. XXX prays really really often but he said he doesn't feel much because he sins. But he keeps on praying anyways. He told me after Sacrament meeting that he wanted to bear his testimony but the meeting ran out of time. He was going to go up there and talk about how he knows that God answers prayers, because he woke up in the morning and prayed really sincerely because he didn't know where to go, and then ten minutes later we approached him on the street. It was a huge testimony to me that if we're doing what we're supposed to then the Lord can use us to reach out to those who are ready for the gospel. Right now our boy XXX is getting ready for baptism, but he didn't show up to our monday meeting with him because some people from his former church found out he had a Book of Mormon and tried to beat him up. Elder XXX was the one who found that out because XXX ran into them on the street. We have no way to connect with him except through his mom, because he doesn't have a phone. So that's the story. Love the man! Love the mission! Everything's going good. I love you all a lot as well. Keep getting ready for the mission, it really changes you. It seems a ways off for those younger boys, but really, you'll be surprised how fast it all flies by. I feel like it was not long ago that I was the one saying my mission was forever away, and now it's already almost halfway done. Don't let your preparation time slip by. Everything will be better if you take is seriously. I love you!



Sunday, July 10, 2011

RUSSIAN TRANSLATION from a computer app:
Hi, family! Sister XXX wants that I have written something to you, that you did not worry. All properly! We already went to clinic and all was solved. I have a small crack on koctoyke on a leg (it is unsuccessful has twisted a leg) have made a x-ray of a leg and have imposed plaster-nahrety and have brought back in arrival. at us today invitation Sunday. This special assembly is organized for Not members of Church. It is a lot of people today has come. Much and members of church and listeners. At us There was very spiritual involved assembly And I think, that it is a lot of people here are interested. So all well! I very much love you and miss certainly. But I am happy, though I have the leg is broken, I pray for you! With love, Alex!!! To you have sent some photos.

Monday, July 4, 2011

That's from a song that Elder Hollingshead was singing this morning.

Today is one of those days where I feel sad that I am not allowed to write off little letters to friends. You're gonna have to pass along a congrats to Chelsee for me--she just emailed and said she's off to Kyiv Ukraine!!!!!!!!!!! We're gonna have so many connections. There were a ton of awesome friends from the MTC who went to that mission. And there's Elder Maksymov in our mission who is from that mission. And also I get to go there to the temple for visa trips. I'M STOKED FOR HER. So that's big news. WAY TO GOOOOOOOOOOO! Also, mail will not take as long. That's dang cool. I'm starting to realize how everything is changing! So much is going on without me, I feel like I'm off in my own little world. It's a really cool feeling, actually. We had a ton of miracles this week. I'll get to that later. I just love hearing that people home are doing good. I like to hear about the hard stuff, too, even if there's nothing I can do but pray about it. I think one of the things I've learned more than anything else throughout the course of my mission is the power and reality of prayer, whether it's prayers for our own welfare or the welfare of others. This week we had some cool experiences regarding that. Actually, my whole mission I've been having cool experiences regarding prayer. Now I'm getting all nostalgic! I'm so happy to hear about Patrick! He's going to be a rock-solid missionary. What an amazing kid! I pray a lot for the kids to realize the importance of a mission and get prepared for it. I feel like everyone is safe. I could have done a lot more to get ready for my mission, probably. It will bless those boys immensely if they take is seriously.

There was LOTS of news that I was really happy to hear about! I'm so excited that things are going well with the Bakers. Dad is such a faithful home-teacher. I feel like he's the perfect example of one who fulfills his calling because he doesn't just go there once a month because he's told to, he's actively working with them. I'll be praying for Vincent, even though by the time I heard about it, you had already had him over. I love the Bakers! I've met a few couples here in Russia that really remind me of them. They're the nicest people. I thought it was great to hear about dad falling asleep too hahaha. I love the little deets from mom. I also thought it was really cool to read about adoption. We're already in Chile and Russia, and who knows where else the other three kids will end up. It would be really interesting to have that kind of a connection right in our family. (Of course, I'm still for it even if it's a little American baby. AMERICAN DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAY)

It was really cool to read about Aunt Mecy and Grandpa Alex. I know you've been a huge help to them, and it probably means the world to Alex. I'll be putting up prayers for Aunt Mecy. Pass on my lurves to everyone up at the picnic! I'm really excited for things like that after the mission.

So, I've realized that my emails have gotten more and more boring the longer I've been out. I'm gonna have to work on that... But with my last five minutes I want to tell you about some stuff that's been going on. Our branch got combined with Elder Bahr's branch, so now we have a ridiculously huge branch of 70-ish people. And we have lots of big guns, including a member of the 70 and the district president. Rock solid branch. This Sunday was testimony meeting, and lots of members testified about the temple. I felt the spirit really strong while they all talked about their temple trips. I love these Russian members so much. They have so much faith. They travel for days to get to the temple. We had some investigators there at the meeting, and I'm sure they felt something, too. We met a new investigator two days ago. He has the worst life ever and he's got SUPER EXTREME FAITH. He has had drugs in his life and troubles with family and things, and he's been reading the Bible and praying for years. He told me yesterday that the morning before we ran into him, he prayed to know where to go and then ten minutes later we ran into him and his mom. TO BE CONTINUED...