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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3/29/2011 A Testimony of "The Gift of Tongues"

Hello Family and Friends!

This week started out with FHE with 2 African(one was baptized by my companion) attending. That was fun and one of them only speaks French (I think I mentioned him last week) so I could talk with him which was really cool.

We had "March Maddness" this week which was a competetion among the missionaries. We had to do things like have lessons, do push-ups, get contacts, run, give out book of Mormons, and wall sits.

We had a crazy day where we were laughed at by some teens going to a lesson, got a referral during a different lesson, and got a contact 2 minutes after that lesson ended. Then we were home late because we were taking a black member home(he's been jumped already).

I got a transfer call and will figure out where I'm going on Friday.

Elder Rader is in his last transfer and I'm hoping that I'll go near him.

While we were leaving district meeting a drunk walked in looking for someone to confess all of his sins to. Three of us went up to him because he seemed about ready to hit one of us.

We had a sick day this week where I studied a ton of Russian grammar stuff and one day came back from a lesson where a man started talking to us because he had 3 friends in America.

Then we did a missionary night on Saturday and while we were waiting some people walked in who wanted a blessing on their home and business since it seems to be failing. The missionary night went well though and I got to do a Steve Irwin impression to introduce Austraila.

I went on a 30 minute split on Saturday as well during a baptism to help them contact and we got 4 contacts and 3 Books of Mormons out all this while it was pouring down hail, rain, and some snow.

Then Sunday morning (had daylight savings which meant we were dead) I get a call from the other elders saying that they're bringing an investigator to church that only speaks French and they want my help. So, I ended up translating for him during Sacrament meeting (which is pretty much my testimony of the gift of tongues) and then we had a lesson with him. I had Elder Loverridge look up gospel words in the English Book of Mormon so I could find them in the French one. FUN!

Elder Russell

Monday, March 21, 2011

Update on Borshe Contents

I was a little concerned about our strapping Chris only eating Borshe, vegetable soup, and cookies every day for a week, was anyone else? He clarified that his recipe for Borshe includes a full pound of chicken and a half pound of sausage in addition to the vegetables...YAY, now that sounds like a good meal!

3/21/2011 Ivan and Oleg and Schwietzers, Oh, My!

Hello Family and Friends!

Monday we brought 2 black investigators to FHE with us. One spoke English, French, and Russian and the other only spoke French. It was African French so it's almost impossible for me to understand. I did have a conversation with a black man who only spoke French(he had a canadian accent) who was baptized on Saturday. He told me I need to work on remembering my French so I can teach people like him (a canadian taught him).

We had another lesson with Ivan and taught him the Plan of Salvation. He took a BOM and we gave him a pamphlet to read about it.

Oleg is another investigator we met with 3 times this week. We talked with him at his house, brought him to a fireside (president and Sis. Schwertzer spoke), and he came to church with us.

We also had a day this week where we gave out 5 books in 3 hours or so. Wow!

Zone conference was this week and we were told it started at l0 so we showed up an hour early to make sure we'd make it and it actually started at 9!

We had the 70 over the East area missions in Europe come and speak to us, visit families, and give a Fireside(The Schwietzers). he spoke in May 2010 conference. It was awesome! Then afterwards we waited for our landlady who wanted to do family history work (she never showed up) and saw a USSR Convention with CCCP balloons.

A man also came up to us and asked what my opinion was (all in English)( of the nuclear radiation getting to the West Coast from Japan. I'm thinking I'm missing some details.

I managed to completely forget about St. Patty's day.

We played chess with the old branch president again. I found out his name (alekcallgep kadaukulob) is the same as the guy who make the AK47(Russian made machine gun).

Then we took the sacrament to a member last night and talked with them. He says that missionaries need a piece of home every now and then. He had us fin our houses on Google maps... Ours was taken at 7:52 am on a Tuesday in fall/winter is my guess (the picture).

Love you all,
Elder Russell

*A note from the mom--Thanks to all of you who fasted on behalf of the missionary work in Ukraine; Our family is excited by the increased success that Elder Russell has seen over the past two weeks. Our testimony of the power of fasting with purpose has become even stronger.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3/13/2011 Blessings From Our Fast

Hello family and friends!

So this week I had two splits one with an Elder Zoemberg and the other with Elder Loveridge. The one with Elder Z was just waiting for our companions to finish "Leadership Training" as it only lasted a couple of hours.

Then from Friday to Saturday night, I had a split with Elder Loveridge. We spent a lot of time contacting in a park and finally got a book out! But their phone "was turned off" so they wouldn't give us their number.

As far as success goes, on Tuesday we had a lesson with Susanto and his friend came in and asked if he could meet with us too!! yes!! He's from Kena(the friend) and we have a member from another part of Africa that we can use when we do lessons with him.

We also met with this kid about our age named Ivan t pronounced ee-v-ah-a) and taught him some English as well as a spiritual lesson. He's really great and sincere and I hope that he starts progressing.

We were looking for less actives the other day and we found this address for a dorm complex...She wasn't there anymore but now I know what Ukrainian dorms look like.

We had a "brothers night" this week which consists of English speakers to get together and talk about spiritual things in English.

This week we watched the Joseph Smith film, then we had church this week without investigators.

Elder Kon... and I were asked to give a spiritual thought in primary so we talked about faith growing from a seed to a tree. Then Elder kont... asked the district president's son if he wanted to be big like me and he said, "my dad's big." Okay, primary.

Then we went to priesthood where the branch president taught this week about the Lord's law of health. We got about half way through when the family history guy stood up and listed off all the food storage that he has telling everyone that they need to prepare for what's ahead.

I was also told that a 8.9 earthquake hit over in Japan and caused a 33 foot tidal wave. The same person told me that US l0l in California had a section shut down.

I'm hoping Trent is alright.
Elder Russell

Wide Butter = Maslenitsa - Thanks Missionary Mom!

It turns out, that all of the traditions that Chris has been celebrating are for the one holiday Maslenitsa, also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare week, is a Russian religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before great lent--thjat is, the seventh week before easter. Maslenitsa corresponds to the western christian carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date.

The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is "bliny" (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition: butter, eggs, and milk.

Maslenitasa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings, and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its tratiional ctiviity. The mascot of the clebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.

As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evenings, Lady Maslenitsa is tripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire, and Lady Masleitsa's ashes are buried in the snow(to fertilize the crops)

3/7/2011 International Pancake and "Wide Butter" Day

Hello Friends and Family!

This week started with me still being sick, but towards Thursday I was all better.

I had two splits this week one with Elder Brady, who is just like Elder Beck, and one with Elder Rader, my wonderful trainer. Those were great!!

Borris, the one who had the stroke, has a new roommate which makes it hard for lessons to be taught to him.

I haven't seen pickled bats here, but I think a member tried to feed us pickled tomatoes once.

My little primary friend was sick last week so she wasn't at church or FHE but I think she's better now.

As far as the cold weather goes, I'd like to remind everyone that I began wearing my heavy coat in October and have STILL needed to wear it.

The branch had several parties. one was for International pancake day, when they made a ton of Ukrainian pancakes and had a large feast. Then they had a game night thing on Saturday in celebration of March 8th which is women's day.
I also went to a talent show with Elder Rader on Friday celebrating the same thing. Two teenagers sang "9 Crimes" by Damien Rice in English...SKETCHY!!

They also have this holiday where they make scarecrows and light them on fire. This is symbolic of them "burning" Winter away. And there is a day called "wide butter day" or something, I don't think it translates well.

Then on Sunday there were 6 investigators at church! 4 of them were the other Elders and two had to leave after the first hour but still! Then the 2 we had left went to priesthood...where the guy talked the entire time about family history...again.

I'm hoping Krista is okay by now, I know that these letters have some delay getting to me so it's been a week or two.

Thank you for all of the love and support that you give me and all of the letters!

I'm very grateful!!
Elder Russell

A note from Elder Russell's mom:

Thanks to all who fasted for the Donetsk Ukrainian missionaries last Sunday. I will keep you posted with the blessings of the fast.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2/27 Getting Organized in the new area...

Hello Family and Friends!

This week was a lot of area work. Since my new companion was sick, we were confined to our apartment for a couple of days. So we finally made an area map, figured out where our boundaries are, made a list of all the people in our area, talked with our branch mission leader to figure out who's active and cleaned the apartment.

Then on Sunday, the other elders had an investigator come so we took him to gospel principles. The teacher for this class happens to only come to church every 3 weeks or so because of work and didn't prepare. This meant he was reading from the manual a lot. Then, in priesthood, the teacher started the lesson by saying, "I know we're supposed to study this conference Liahona thing, but I'd like to do something else. Any objections?" Then someone said that he was the teacher and could teach what he wanted so we had an hour long discussion on how to do family history work. The whole time the other elders have given their investigator a Liahona which he was reading and not listening. I'm sick now, by the way so your prayers would be nice.

Tonight we have the Katusov family for Family Home evening which should be fun. I'm thinking that my Russian is getting better but I'm being told that I need to speak up so that people understand me. Going to have to work on that.

We need more investigators too. The only one that we're meeting with right now is Sri Lankan and speaks perfect English. We need more natives, which I'm hoping will come with a weather change. Silly groundhog. Hope you're all doing well!

Elder Russell

2/21 fuka(Vika) -and New Companion Elder Kontsedaylo

Hello family and friends!
This week I actually have a picture of fuka(Vika), the little girl who loves me and simultaneously wants to hit me every time she passes by.

Just so that everyone feels better, we got stuck in an elevator too. Four of us walked in, the doors closed, the lights turned off, and nothing happened. The difference is that I ripped the doors open with my hands and we could get out fine.

I beat the old branch president at chess after a lesson with him and I think he wants a re-match.

We met with Sister tamara this week and she has a great testimony. I could feel that and when Elder Beck gave her a blessing it was even stronger.

We had to move Elder Beck, so on Thursday the ZLs and us took the 3 suitcases and extra bag(that's the size of a suitcase) through the metro. It was fun.

Then on Friday we went on a bus at 7 in the morning and I stayed with the ZL for the rest of the day until we found out who companions were. Right now I'm with Elder Kontsedaylo who lived in Kiev until he was 9 years old and then he moved to Austrailia. So he knows English and Russian pretty perfectly.

We baptized someone the following day so I went to that. The man is from Africa and speaks English, French, and some Russian.

On Sunday I had to give a talk and I used a Liahona general conference address that I didn't know was written by Russell M. Nelson until I was on the stand. Really weird saying Elder Russell said, probably one of the few times that will happen.

They don't really celebrate Valentine's day, they have a different one for that.

We cannot eat fish here (I wouldn't want to either) and as far as I know, there is no church sponsored scouting program here in Ukraine.

When missionaries aren't teaching lessons, we are usually contacting, eating, preparing food, setting up appointments, or it's P day. In the last case I've done bowling, ping-pong, Risk, Monopoly, napped, shopped, hung out, and played both kinds of football.

As far as how I'm doing goes, I'm great! I love my new companion and he has high hopes for the area. The work is hard but we carry on and I believe that our work will pay off. And Russian is going fine, my companion says I have a good accent.

Elder Russell