Elder Christopher Russell, Donetsk Ukraine Mission July 2010 - July 2012

Christopher Russell was found worthy to serve a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, and received his mission call from President Thomas S. Monson to serve in the Ukraine, Donetsk Mission.

Chris will spend the first twelve weeks of his mission at the Mission Training Center in Provo Utah learning, Russian.

On October 13, 2010 he will start his journey to the Ukraine.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2/20/2011 - No Compassion from Chris

I wrote Chris this week and mentioned how cold it has been here in California, you know, down into the 30's and not getting any warmer than 50 degrees - no compassion at all here's what he had to say.

I can't really feel too bad for your terrible Californian weather since it's still 30 degrees warmer than here. glad that everything is going well though!

2/19/2011 Chris gets a new companion

News of the week, Elder Russell will remain in the apartment he opened last month. His new companion is an Elder Kontsedaylo, we're not sure what kind of name this is, and his companion is the district leader for the Soltivka, South area.

Have a great weekend.


2/13/2011 A Surprise Trip to the Metro Police Station

As the mom, I feel that this story is one that will increase everyone's testimony that the prayers that we offer on behalf of the protection of our missionaries are heard and answered.

Last week, as Chris and his companion were walking the streets of his area, they were stopped by two policemen. The policemen asked them for their identification papers. Chris pulled his papers out and presented them. They were carefully read and handed back. Chris claims that they didn't really converse with him after this point.

The police officers requested that Elder Beck hand over his papers, they were told by Elder Beck that he didn't have his identification papers with him. Elder Beck Told them that he was Elder Russell's companion but the police took both Elder Beck and Chris to the Police Station that was located in the nearby Metro Station.

At the police station, the police grilled Elder Beck as to what he was doing in the Ukraine, etc... After some time, they came to believe his story that he was a missionary, he then was raked over the coals for being on the streets without his proper paperwork. The two elders were then released.

As a mother, I feel for both young men and the scariness of this whole situation. Before Chris left for the MTC, I felt prompted to speak with him about the importance of ALWAYS carrying proper identification; I also went over how important it was to comply with the requests of the police if he ever had any encounters with them.

We are thankful that Heavenly Father was mindful of these two missionaries and enlightened the police officers with the sense that Elder Beck truly was working for the Lord in a missionary capacity.

A special thank you to all our dear family and friends who pray for our son and his safety and success. Elder Russell and our family, truly appreciate them.


2/6/2011 Year of the rabbit - It's been positive celsius outside!

Hello family and friends!

This week wasn't too exciting, but everything is melting here. Not only that, but the winds have been pretty crazy the last 2 days.

We met with Susanta(our investigator) this week. He's from Sri Lanka and grew up budhist. We're trying to get him a testimlny of Jesus Christ. He just seems too caught up on the facts.

We also met with our Landlady and read a pamphlet with her. She's nce... a little odd, but nice.

I made another batch of cookies this week and they're already gone.

On Wednesday, my companion made me senior for the day and had me do all the phone calling and such. It was good for me but a little on the scary side.

Then we had a split the next day where I visited an investigator in the hospital of the elder I was on splits with, the man had had a stroke. We also visited a less active's home and she had some inappropriate pictures on the wall along with some budhist art..yeah. She went through my photos and she saw the one where Ashlyn is holding a rabbit and said how cute it was, that it's the year of the rabbit, and that eating them is bad. I withheld the fact that we raise them all for meat.

This Friday we get transfer calls so that will be intresting. Kharkov had 6 branches that were combined (so now there are three) and when an elder asked President Fry when he was at our district meeting last week something about transfers he said, "Sometimes 1 + 1 doesn't equal 2.), which he took from me at our district meeting with him.

This week we're planning on making a huge pot of borshe that will last us 4 days... that will be good for the digestive system. But hey! It's been Positive Clesius outside!!

Love you all! Have fun out there!
Elder Russell

1/30/2011 Hospital Horrors and Loving Primary

Hello Family!
This week started out with a family night where the non-member boyfriend of the district president's daughter was basically told every bible story there is. All the while, I've got a four year old climbing all over me.

The next day, we went to a hospital. We first went to someone's house, literally picked them up and walked them down 4 stories, put them into an ambulance, followed the ambulance, unloaded the man from the ambulance onto a stretcher, unloaded the man from the stretcher to his hospital bed, and waited for paperwork to be filled out. All doctors wear these tall white hats like a chef and the hospital looked like a horror film. And the guy's house, had wooden tikis everywhere.

Then we had a district meeting with Pres. Fry and interviews followed by a split. I was with Elder Loveridge who is being trained right now. My Russian during that time was the best that I've had in country and my confidence really improved from that. We did some contacting, taught two lessons, and were supposed to teach a third.

This lady wants us to help her daughter with English homework but we waited for l1/2 hours because, even though we tried to get the daughter while it was going on, we didn't start until the end of a Relief Society thing. We went to looked for the girl and the Relief Society saw us and gave us food... The lady did say I had a Kiev accent though.

We visited the old branch president and he seems to be doing better.

The Reeds gave me things for my shoes which are awesome! Hopefully, I won't fall again.

Then on Saturday Elder Beck scheduled 2 meal appointments back to back and the first lady fed us so much food we didn't think we could do the second one.

Then, we taught primary again and the same four year old mentioned above was sitting on my lap, grabbing my ear, nose, and nametag, and randomly hitting me. I love Primary!

Church is at l0 am every week and is held in the building with the spires(one of the photos).

We have cell phone here and are supposed to limit our phone calls to 5 minutes. We cannot text but other missions, like Kiev, can.

And, the music lady from the old area taught choir.

Until next week!
Elder Russell

1/24/2011 A quick week in Saltovka - Yay!

Hello Family and Friends!

This week went by a lot quicker than most which is good because it means that I'm working!

We had some hamburgers this week using our Mansmith's seasoning. They were GREAT.... aside from the fact that we had Ukrainian meat!

One of the days the hot water shut off and didn't turn back on until 2:30 in the afternoon; Elder Beck waited to take a shower until then. Didn't bother me because i shower at night.

On Wednesday of this week, we have Pres. Fry coming to our district meeting (our district leader told us not to mess it up) and then he will do interviews. Then on Thursday, I go on a split with Elder Toveridge(greenie) who has been here 3 weeks. Should be an adventure.

We visited an inactive who is really nice and has a great testimony, he just can't come to church because of a nerve problem.

Then we had several contacts, one of which said he'd come to church, but haven't seen him yet.

Everyone continues to ask me if I'm related to Russell M. Nelson or M. Russell Ballard and one time, Kurt Russell...which made no sense.

We bought a microwave for the apartment which is great...except we used most of the money we had left for the month to do it and because of the holidays, things are a little slow. So we hope to have the money on our cards today so that we can buy groceries.

They sell things differently here. We picked out the microwave that we wanted and the store clerk took it down, put it on a table asked us to feel a cup of cold water. Then he put it in the microwave for a minute, then took the cup out and had us feel the water again to show us that it was warm. Then he took the same microwave and put it in a box for us.

We got a new branch president on Sunday, but the old branch president (Vladamir) seemed really down in the dumps and he was the same way when we visited him on Saturday. Just pray for him, I think his family left him when he joined the church, he's not working, and sometimes Ukrainians get offended when they are released from callings like that.

Also, we have two contacts that we are trying to meet with, Alexander and Victor.

I'll write next week!

Elder Russell

1/17/2011 Transfer to Saltovka and Flying Fish

Hello family and friends,
Okay, I'm going to try to answer some of the dear elder questions:
1. Sasha, the young man in one of the past pictures, is a convert who was baptized during my first transfer here in the country. I had one lesson with him while I was on a split after he was baptized and talked to him on Sundays.

2.The way we contact people here is similar to other areas: we talk to people on the street, knock on their doors, call people on the phone...it's just a little harder to knock on a door when you can't even get into the apartment building.

3. As far as ethnic food goes we have some pizza places, I've seen some Chinese food places, and I think I saw a Russian restaurant. We also have American McDonald's!

4.The one senior couple, the Reeds, are going home some time in February.

5. The Mission president and his wife go home at the end of June or beginning of July.

Okay, on to this week. We spent all of Thursday moving into our new apartment and getting settled, which was a mess because we needed to move all of the church's stuff along with our own.(the branch is still there but the missionaries were removed from the area) We had a van though so it was alright and only took 4 hours.

This apartment is smaller than the last one so our stuff is kind of everywhere looking for a place to be. I'll send some pictures so you know what I'm talking about.

Elder Beck's l8 months work was on Saturday, so we had pizza delivered and I made about 9 dozen cookies. Yum!

Yesterday we had church and someone in the branch presidency had all the elders shovel the snow off the walkway.

Our new district consists of Elder Beck, Elder Tilgner(he's German), Elder Toveridge(he's being trained now), and I. These are all the missionaries that go to our ward.

So on Sunday, the four of us shoveled snow off the walkway, Elder Beck gave a talk with 5 minutes notice and all four of us taught primary... Yikes!!! Imagine 12 kids, all different ages, in the same room with four elders (two of which don't always understand them) yelling and throwing rubber light up fish everywhere (don't know why the church would have those). Needless to say, we escaped with our lives.

Elder Toveridge is really cool and I'm glad he's being trained in my district; He really wants to work.

We got the conference issue of the Liahona, finally, along with the December one.

Hope everyone had a good week!!!

Love you all,
Elder Russell