Monday, December 28, 2015

Mother Russia/Christmas

Today is one of those days I wish you could all see for yourselves. It is freezing cold but sunny and blue skies- my favorite kind of day. Russia is beautiful.

Elder Barnes and I just visited Mamaev Koorgan in Volgograd and it was incredible. I have seen it many times from the street, but there was so much more to see! So many statues, monuments and so much history. There is one part with a huge torch that constantly burns with guards and everything. We got to see the changing of the guard and went all the way up to the statue where there are over 34000 people buried! Way cool experience, and we were the only people there because it is in the negatives today and real windy. Loved it though! Pics below!!

We had Zone Conference on Tuesday and had the pleasure of having the Miners with us as well as two of their kids! It was a great day, learned so much. President Miner challenged us to read our Patriarchal Blessings to find our spiritual gifts and when I read mine I had a really cool spiritual experience. All of you that have one of those sacred blessings, read it and study it often! 

Thursday we had a District lunch for Christmas. It was a good time with my favorite people and we threw together a delicious Christmas meal.

Woke up Friday morning to open my presents- thanks Mom! But the best gift came Friday night when I was able to call home. It was pretty special to Skype my family, especially with the other Elder Tucker who will be home in 2 days!! 
It was tough to say bye but it was exactly what I needed,  to see you all and hear your voices. Thanks for being the best ever!!

Saturday was the Branch Christmas party. We threw it together,  in not much time and thought it would be a big flop, but it turned out to be a huge hit. We still don't know how,  but a bunch of people came and lots of little kids all dressed up. It was a fun night with good food, music, mini talent show, games, etc. We even had a decorated Christmas tree! 

We will be spending a couple days in the apartment this weekend due to the New Year's madness. It is supposed to be below -10 this weekend so staying in might be a huge blessing! In Russia, New Years is just like our Christmas with trees and presents and all that good stuff. It is a huge deal to them! Excited to experience it. 

Didn't have many teaching opportunities this week, most appointments fell through. But like usual we met some really awesome people on the streets. Just pray for teaching opportunities for us! 
That is all, until next week!!  Thanks for all the love, prayers and support!!

Much Love,
Elder Tucker

Monday, December 21, 2015


1st  - huge shout out to Emma Merrill for her mission call! The Dominican is the luckiest!

Biggest shout out to the Utes! It hurts a little missing all this success but makes me so very happy. Always cheering them on, from Russia! 

Got another surprise on Sunday when my main man from Volgograd Kolya (aka Nick or Justin Bieber) came to visit! I was so happy to see him! We had some extra time in sacrament meeting so Elder Barnes called on him from the pulpit to share about how he is preparing to go on a mission (he just turned 18). He gave a way good talk about fasting and tithing and the blessings he has received from them. Lets just say many members were grabbing tithing slips afterwards! I love that kid! 

It has been a good week. We did not get back to Volzhky until Thursday so we have only had a few days here. Our new investigator Nikolai, is incredible. He found the Church online and came to church last Sunday. He is the most prepared investigator I have seen so far. When we talked about baptism/the priesthood he proceeded to ask us if we had this priesthood power and then we talked about the Holy Ghost, he told us he wants that! We have only had one full meeting with him but he has a soft baptismal commitment and I have so much faith that he will be baptized! He wants to hear all the lessons and is eager to know more. He really is looking for the truth and he has come to the right place. 

We got invited to an English class here and it has turned into a great finding opportunity. All the people there are so cool and love talking to real Americans. We had a way cool experience showing them the new Christmas video the church made that everyone should watch ( It is only two minutes, one girl really thanked us for it because she was religious when she was little and would go to church with her dad. It was awesome because she expressed how thankful she was for the video in perfect english and at the beginning of the class she was too shy to even speak. 

Speaking of Christmas, we have been on a big Christmas kick recently. We got new pass along cards to share the video with everyone. The other night someone was in a hurry and he shook our hands and I accidentally shook his hand with a card in my hand. Then I proceeded to say (in English) "oh, there's a new card for ya." Of course he did not speak English and was way confused and then we all just started laughing. It was quite the sly move. 

Also on the topic of Christmas, I have been thinking a lot about it as it is this week. I realized that my whole life I have loved Christmas for two reasons only- family and presents. This year is a little different with my family thousands of miles away,  however I do have wrapped presents waiting to be opened , thanks to my mom. I have always loved Christmas but it always ends to soon and the new gifts lose their flavor too quickly. Christmas does not have to end when the presents are done being opened, however, if we just remember why we celebrate it after all. Jesus Christ is the true meaning of Christmas, his life should be celebrated every day because he makes all things possible for us. Although I miss me a good old traditional Christmas with the my family, I have a feeling this will be my favorite Christmas yet. Zone Conference tomorrow.  It is going to be a great week!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!  Have a great time celebrating with all those you love!!

Elder Tucker


Monday, December 14, 2015


It has been a busy, crazy week. Definitely grew a lot this week. Loved working with Elder Berger, such a good example of service and consecrated missionary work. I loved working with him!!

Had some way awesome meetings with members in Volgograd. One was extremely powerful with a less active family. They are Armenian and from what it sounds like, Armenians are not treated the best here. Anyways, we talked about temples and it got the lady really emotional because it was one day before the anniversary of her mother's death and she would love to do temple work for her. It just really got me thinking how lucky I am to be surrounded by temples and by friends and family in the Gospel. She gave us the closing prayer in Armenian (so cool) and fed us, I don't even know what it was, but it was good! 

That night we visited an incredible member family. They were so welcoming and loving, just so happy to have the missionaries over. I talked to their little 5 year old because that's about all the vocabulary I have and he was the cutest. Kept giving me bones and high fives. They also have a deaf non-member in the family who Elder Berger has been teaching, it was incredible to see. He gave the closing prayer in sign language, also awesome. 
One thing I relearned this week was prayer and the Spirit don't have a language prayer. Whether English, Russian, Armenian, or Sign Language, it is so powerful. 

Sunday was a day full of miracles. Without Elder (President) Barnes here, as 1st Counselor I was the only member of the Branch Presidency here. Yes I even conducted... it was pretty scary but all went well. I also blessed the Sacrament with Elder Berger so it was probably the first time the "presiding authority" blessed the sacrament and then received it first haha. Luckily, we had Sister Kukla and Delan from Astrahan that came and both gave talks and Sister Delan taught Sunday School because the teacher did not come. Way grateful for them and their willingness to help! Day full of tender mercies. And for the first time, we had 3 visitors show up and we met with 1 one of them and he is now an investigator. 

Speaking of investigators we have a lot of potential investigators and investigators to work with as of now, so thank you for the prayers!  Keep them coming!!

I've learned a lot this week. I had many doubts about how this week would go, just felt so inadequate. But it was actually one of my favorite weeks so far. I was contributing more in lessons and conversations and just felt the joy that comes when I open my mouth and have some faith! There is so much joy that comes from being a missionary and I will find more and more joy as I progress in the language and always have the Spirit with me.  Thanks to you
all for the continual love, prayers and support!!  Love to you all!!

-Elder Tucker

Monday, December 7, 2015


It is transfer week! Can't believe my first transfer is over. I will be staying in Volzhky with Elder Barnes for 6 more weeks which was good news! However, transfers are crazy here with visa trips and everyone traveling to their new areas. Elder Barnes has a visa trip but the visa trip has been delayed so he is going to Rostov tomorrow and working until it happens and I will be on splits all week in my favorite city of Volgograd with Elder Berger who is a Zone Leader. It will be a fun week! 

Last Monday we had interviews with President Miner, I love that man so much! He is the best. We had a great chat. And then he came back just on Saturday for the baptism in Volgograd and he came to our branch yesterday. He taught Sunday School and it was so good. He talked all about the process of being called as a mission president and how L. Tom Perry promised them they would see miracles and that they have! So much has fallen into place for them to be here, it just cannot be a coincidence. Just proof that He qualifies who he calls! We are excited to get Sister Miner back tomorrow as well! 

The baptism was for Sam from Ghana and it was perfect. He was so ready and he brings all his friends to church and some of them have baptismal dates already set, as well. Elder Barnes was the one Sam chose to baptize him because E. Barnes was the original one to find him. It was a special night, great turn out, Spirit was so strong. It was just incredible to see someone enter into the waters of baptism for the first time , as a missionary! 
We got some new investigators this week! One named Maxim worked in India for a few years so him and I talked all about that,  of course. He has been to all the places I have been so it was fun to connect. He speaks great English which really helps haha. 

Church/Fast Sunday was great yesterday. I was able to share my testimony about my new found love for the scriptures however I don't know if they understood any of it. One thing I have learned from serving in this Branch Presidency is just how important Tithing and Fast Offerings are. I see some of the things and people that benefit greatly from it, so always pay your tithing and fast offerings! 

Shoutout to the Utes for the big win over the Cougars in basketball. Heard about the Utes BYU showdown in Vegas. My goodness I cannot wait to hear how that goes! Let's make it 5 in a row Utes!! 
Thanks to all of you for your love, support and prayers!!  Love you all!!!

-Elder Tucker

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving & Mothers Day

It has been a great week! Cannot believe I have been in Russia for over a month! 

I hope you all had the greatest Thanksgiving, I had a great one! We were able to have a feast with our District in Volgograd. Way thankful for the Sisters because they are better missionaries than Elders and they put together a great meal even in Russia. This Thanksgiving I was probably feeling more grateful than ever for the littlest things in life, but here are the three most important:

1. My family. You all support me so much and I honestly would not be able to get through my days here without your support.

2. My friends at home and around the world who are the greatest examples to me .

3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. The other day, while on the streets it just hit me, how lucky I am to have the Gospel. I didn't have to rely on a brave friend or young missionaries to share it with me, I have had it my whole life. I am so grateful to know that it is true and to have these two years to learn more about what I know to be true. I am so lucky. 

Yesterday was Mother's Day here, which of course I loved,  because I have the greatest Mom in the world!! I don't know how you do it Mom, but I feel your love thousands of miles away. You mean the world to me! 
We were able to get flowers for all the Sisters in the Branch for Mothers Day and they loved it. We also took flowers to a Sister the other day for her birthday. Russia randomly has flower shops everywhere and they are the best. 

Bought me some winter boots, they are great (fur on the inside!). We are in the negatives here (celsius) and everything is freezing over, it is real fun. I'm ready for the Winter! We also discovered the greatest bakery place... We buy treats by the Kilo and they are so cheap. Hasn't been the healthiest week. 

Got to watch Meet the Mormons for our activity Saturday night, we had people show up this time! They all loved the movie, it never gets old for me! 

I am officially 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency here in Volzhky. That is something I never thought I would say in my life (counselor in the branch presidency).  I love the Branch here!  

We do not have many investigators right now, only two that are progressing. But we have a lot of potential investigators lined up for this week and we have been working with less active members and the active members just to strengthen the branch here. The Branch is doing really well right now, attendance is going up and everyone seems happy! We are working hard and we have so much faith in this area! 

That is all from me this week. Love you all, thanks for all the prayers and support. I am so lucky to have the greatest support team!  

-Elder Tucker

Monday, November 23, 2015


Greetings Everyone,

This week we brought back English Club to Volzhky! Everyone was way pumped about it! Most people here can say a couple things in English ,but usually it is quite hard to understand.  We had a few people this week and it will hopefully continue to grow in numbers. Everyone on the streets rejects us and then when we mention a free English class they become so nice haha! We taught them greetings this week and even taught them "What's up, dog?" and I was laughing so hard.  They help me with my Russian and I help them with English. win win.  

We planned a way solid activity for the Branch this week- game night and watching Meet the Mormons in Russian! So we set it all up, called everyone, and not a single person showed up... But we got it rescheduled for this Saturday and members offered to bring stuff this time, it will be a lot better! 

Had the most interesting hour the other day on the streets. Talked to two men and let's just say I won't forget it anytime soon! 

Church was great yesterday, only lead the music and said the closing prayer this week. The branch is starting to feel like home and a family now. Even got my weekly language lesson from this one member. He made me read out loud to him and then I don't really understand his corrections because I am still working on my Russian, so it is quite entertaining.
It has been warm this week which we have been told is really rare for this time of year. Lots and lots of rain! Today is blue skies and sunny! Have not seen the sun for about a week so it is really nice today! Only about 8 hours of daylight right now.

Starting a new thing where each week I pick a verse to ponderize and a christlike attribute to work on.

Verse this week: Mosiah 24:15.

Christlike Attribute: Virtue

This week I finished Our Heritage and started Jesus the Christ. Both are so good and highly recommend them!

I think that is all from me! I love you all and hope you have the greatest Thanksgiving, appreciate all the many blessings you have!  We all have so much to be grateful for!!  Love you all, until next week.

-Elder Tucker

Monday, November 16, 2015


Hey all,
  Zach did not have time to write on the blog, so I am going to share a few things that he wrote in his
family email.
  "I have been a little homesick this week, but I have turned it into motivations! I have dedicated a day of the week to each of you.  I do not know if it will just last this week or my entire mission, but it has really helped so far.  Sundays are for Mom- because she is always at church, not matter what, and
every day she has a smile on her face, she has so much patience and strength, it starts my week off right, with a positive attitude.  Mondays are for Megs- I need to be more like her, bold and not afraid to state what I know to be true.  Tuesdays are for Trav - which will help me to be smart, clever,devoted and I want to strive to be like his example when in served in Hong Kong.  Wednesdays are for Lex- middle of the week slump, I need some of that energy, to finish strong!! Thursdays are for my Rams,
friends, and my boys all around the world, because they also motivate me!! Fridays are for Ri- This will probably be my most successful day, as I try to mirror his missionary work, that has been incredibly successful.  Saturdays are for Dad- A member in my branch presidency said "finishers are the best missionaries", so if I work hard, I will finish my week strong!!   I love you all!!

Mission update:  It has been a good week overall.  I went on splits in Volgograd with a Zone Leader, we taught a some great lessons.  My companion and I had some good lessons with members this week, they are the best!! One of our investigators read the whole BOM in 3 days.  Which was awesome!!  On Sunday, I had to give a 10 minute talk ( with no notice, thankfully, I had a few talks from the MTC, I had prepared). conducted the hymns, passed the sacrament.  We had a few members that I had not met before this week, it was great to meet them.  We had like 15 at church and they all
stayed for Sunday School, which almost never happens, they stayed because we had a Linger Longer afterwards, and served them muffins.

This week we are starting English Class and having game night.  This week I have realized that
I am understanding the language a lot more!! It is coming, slowly but surely.  It is starting to get
really cold.  Today was actually pretty nice.   Love you all, thanks for all the updates, love, and
support.  Until next week!!"

Elder Tucker

Pictures- Sunsets, ready for the cold in my new coat

Monday, November 9, 2015

District in Volgograd

Hey all!

Mission Update: This whole weekend we have had the Kachers with us. President Kacher serves in the Area Presidency in Moscow and is a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. We've spent a ton of time in Volgograd this week because of this. We had an all day Zone Conference on Friday with the Miners and Kachers, it was so good!! 

We are trying to focus more on less actives and in-actives here , because the Church here is gaining converts yet Sacrament attendance is declining. 3 of 4 are less active! We have a ton in Volzhky that we are going to start working with. Pres. Kacher taught us some great things about working with all different types of people from Investigators to Members. He also talked about our mindsets and said something along the lines of, "Our mindsets are a direct reflection of our faith in Jesus Christ." It is so true! Russia is only hard if you think that way!  He had some way valuable insight and was calling us by name from the minute he walked in. Incredible man. And it was awesome to get to spend time with the Miners, they do so much for us. 

We also had a Conference on Sunday in Volgograd with the Kachers and Miners so all the members from all the branches in the area came for the big announcement that Volgograd is now a District! It was a big historical weekend. 

Right after the Conference ended in Volgograd, I witnessed something incredible. The man who had just barely been made the District President piled into his older car with his daughter and two other members and left for the Temple in Kiev. One of the members told us it is a 24 hour drive.. That is dedication. Don't take advantage of the many wonderful temples all so close in Utah.

This week I got to meet the Ghanaians in Volgograd. My comp taught a lot of them when he served there. They are incredible! One of them, named Sam, just committed to baptism and many others are going to follow. Made me think of Elder Divver. He is pretty lucky to work with those people all day every day! I love them! 

Russia Update: It is getting cold quickly. It has not been too bad yet. But a member informed us that in our area -20/-25 is normal in the winter... 

This week I have noticed all the incredible statues that I am surrounded by. All are war related and you can find a Lenin statue on about every street corner. Russia is unlike anywhere I have been before, I absolutely love it!!

Snickers are still the best ever. Also had McDonalds today and it was too good !!

Language Update: Russian is hard. They all speak soo very fast and it is way hard to understand but I think I am slowly but surely improving. Idk if/when I will ever speak this language but I cannot wait for the day it comes.

All is well in Russia. My comp and I are getting to work in Volzhky and we have fun doing it. Poor Elder Barnes broke his bed this week and it was soo funny. 

I am great!! Thanks for all the love and support!  

-Elder Tucker
Pictures - Ghana Buddies-yes, in Russia, My apartment building, The Branch, Zach and a Tank, Zone Conference

Monday, November 2, 2015

Russia, My Home!!

Hello everyone!

What a week is has been. 

This is about all you need to know about my week: We left Provo on Monday night, and I got to my apartment just two days ago! It was a long trip and I was in the same clothes for almost a week but it was well worth it , because I love it here.

We got to Rostov on Wednesday night where we were greeted by the AP's and President/Sister Miner! It was so awesome to finally get here and be welcomed by them. On the taxi drive to the mission home, it was one of the AP's and me, he started talking to the taxi driver as any good missionary would and I of course could not understand anything but then I heard him ask me to testify about the Book of Mormon so I did and it was way awesome. That night we had a great meal from Sister Miner and slept over in the beautiful mission home. 
Thursday morning I met my trainer Elder Barnes who I love! Seriously I lucked out as far as trainers go. He is super happy and spiritual and way good with people. He is the youngest trainer having only been here for 4 transfers , he is doing great. 

My first area is called Volzhky. It is in the Volgograd area. Volgograd is way awesome, some of you may recognize its previous name of Stalingrad. But Volzhky is just outside of Volgograd and is the most northern area of the mission (8-9 hour bus ride from Rostov) which means it will be a brutal winter but after all I am in the warmest mission in Russia so I can't complain ,when my other Russian friends have it worse. It is a great area, the branch is small but the members are awesome. I had to conduct the music in sacrament which was interesting then got to bear my testimony.  One kid just got home the other day from his mission in Bulgaria so he shared as well as his parents. 

As far as Russian goes, I do not understand much at all that is said around me. Like seriously,  I have no idea, I just follow my trainer. But I try to speak and it is fun. I am understanding more and more each day. It will be a big process,  but well worth it in the end.

Let me tell you all about street teaching. We go out and talk to everyone, like literally. Here are the typical reactions to us:
1. the classic pointer finger waving side to side
2. НЕТ! Which means no. (repeated 5+ times)
3. They will start talking to us until we say our names then they say "Oh Mormon" and walk away
4. One guy told me I was a spy
5. They light up and love talking to us. 

#5 keeps me going. The people here really are great. Yeah we have our fair share of rejection but so does every missionary! I love the Russian people and will love them even more when I can understand them. 
If you have time check out the following great talks I studied this week: "The Station" by Robert J. Hastings, "Pushing Against the Rock", and "The Fourth Missionary." All of these have really helped me out this week and I hope to apply them so I can be a better missionary. 

There is SOOO much I could write about but I don't have much time. But like any experience, you just cannot fully understand without being here with me.  Thanks for all the support, love, and prayers!!

Much love!!

-Elder Tucker

P.S. Elder Tucker mentioned that snickers have been a highlight of his week, they are way better there!! Probably 
 because he has been living on bread and carrots for the last few days.  Thanks goodness, they were able to go
 get some groceries today.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In Russia

Hi All,
  Elder Zach Tucker has made it to Russia, after two very,very long days.  He is
staying the night in the mission home.  Tomorrow, he will have orientation and
will meet his trainer.  Then he will be off to his new area.  He was happy, excited,
and a little nervous.  Thanks for all the love, support and prayers.  More details
to come....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Goodbye Provo

This will probably be the last you here from me as far as my MTC stay goes! It has flown by down here, however these last days have been dragging a little.

Last Friday we got our flight plans! SLC to JFK to Moscow to Rostov! We have like a 9 hour layover in New York and 10 hours in Moscow or something like that. Should be fun! 

I'm mostly going to write about this past Sunday, it was an incredible day. In the morning we had a great Sacrament meeting where our Branch President Heaps talked to us, he is incredible. I am sure going to miss our Branch Presidency, my district has gotten real close with them. My district sang in Sacrament on Sunday. We sang Be Still My Soul. First verse, was the 4 good singers in the district, then second verse was just the elders, and third verse was all of us in Russian. It was awesome.

Sunday after dinner I had a life altering experience. A Sister in my district asked me to give her a Priesthood Blessing for comfort. I had never given a blessing before, I never realized how special blessings are. Anyways, I was pretty nervous but prayed before and when the blessing started I have never felt more peace and comfort in my life. I don't even know what I said, I just hope I was able to help her! Pretty incredible to experience first hand, the power of the Priesthood, something I had not fully appreciated or understood until Sunday night. 

Sunday Night Devotional we had BYU's own Chad Lewis and the one and only Taysom Hill. I know what you are all thinking and yes it was kind of painful to hear from the rivals themselves. However, they both had strong testimonies and awesome experiences. Taysom said something along the lines of, "I have played in front of countless fans in some of the biggest stadiums in the country, but nothing has ever compared to the experience of serving a mission." Pretty cool to hear. 

Language Update:
I've been focusing all on grammar with Sister Warnick and we have made a lot of progress. My teacher complimented mine and Elder David's grammar after the last lesson which always feels great because his Russian is flawless. I've accepted the fact that getting to Russia will be a huge slap in the fact as far as the language goes. But I am so excited to hear from and talk to real Russians and try to immerse myself into their culture and language! 

I can't believe it is time for me to actually get into the mission field. I have had D&C 4 memorized for many years now,  because we recite it, every Sunday at my home ward, but it has never meant more to me than it does now! Brother Allen from our Branch Presidency read it last night and it hit me hard.

I'm going to Russia with two 50 pound bags and very minimal Russian. However, I do have a testimony of this Gospel and that is just about all I ever need.  Thanks for all the prayers, love and support!!

Next stop: Russia!

-Elder Tucker

On a side note earlier today-in his email - "You are not going to believe the hour we all just had. Rumors were
flying,  that all Rostov missionaries were getting reassigned for 6 weeks, I was way bummed,  I said a prayer,
then went to the travel office and right as they told me that I was reassigned to the Virginia, Chesapeake mission, a lady in the back said "all the Rostov visas came" so wow, what a miracle!!"  Leaving to Rostov as planned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

50 !!

Today is my 50 day mark! Only 12 days till I'm Rostov bound! 

It has been another good week in Provo. Here is why:

Let me tell you there is no bigger testimony builder for me than seeing my best friends leave Provo going all over the world. I've even had the chance to hear them speak their new languages and it just gives me chills. The Gift of Tongues is real! I've said it before and I'll say it again, I have the best friends in the world and they are going to be responsible for so much good in their new states/countries. All the places my friends are serving, don't know how lucky they are to have such studs preaching them the truth they need to hear! But having such good examples makes it real hard to say bye! Love you all! 

So this week all the older Russians left and all the ones that left to the Spain MTC so now my district is next to leave. The fact that we go to Russia so soon is pretty intimidating,  but I am so excited. Last night we heard from a member of the Presidency of the Seventy and he talked about how all of this is just the beginning for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How we started with one named Joseph Smith and now there are 15 million of us. He promised that we would tell our kids that we remember when there  was ONLY 15 million members. I of course thought of how I hope to tell my kids that when I served in Rostov there were only 14 branches and 0 temples in the whole country. I'm truly honored to go to Russia at such a special time when there is much work to be done. I know when I'm older Russia will be home to temples and more stakes, wards, branches, and members than we can imagine! 

Spiritual Thought: Sister Warnick shared with me Alma 31: 30-35 this week and called it A Missionary's Prayer- check it out. It is powerful!

Language Update: Yesterday when I was kinda down about friends leaving, Elder David and I taught our best lesson to our teacher/investigator Oleg. He even told us after that it felt different and that we did a good job. That always feels good, especially when it is all in Russian. Bringing people unto Christ makes me happier than anything, but it is quite hard to do in a new language! I'll get there with the language though!

In Skype this week with actual Russians we got complimented on our Russian which was also good to hear. We both know they are just being nice because our Russian is FAR from where it needs to be but I love Skyping the members!
I think that is all from me this week. 12 days cannot come soon enough!! 
GO UTES! Go Rams!
All my love,

-Elder Tucker

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Conference Christmas

привет! (Hi!)
Another week down and 19 days left in Provo!
Wow it has been quite the week. Mostly because of General Conference,  but I'll talk about that later on. 
HOW ABOUT THEM UTES!? Are you kidding me?? Ranked 5th and bringing Game Day to town. I am so proud of them and wearing my Ute socks right now. 
Let's talk conference aka the equivalent to Christmas for us missionaries.
Here's what I loved about conference:
1. I loved watching and thinking that my friends and family throughout the world,  were watching the same broadcast. I felt so connected to those I love and miss , and it made me so happy. 
2. Watching conference as a missionary is a whole new experience. It means so much more to me now as a representative of Jesus Christ and this Church, with his name always displayed on my chest. 
3. The talk about simplifying the gospel from President Uchtdorf- it was very applicable to me as a missionary! There were multiple talks I loved , that also mentioned callings and how the Lord will help us magnify our callings if we put in the effort. 
4. The whole talk from Larry R. Lawrence on Saturday morning was pure gold. 
5. Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on mothers. He stressed how the two most important people are our Savior and our moms. Cried the whole time thinking about my incredible mom watching the same thing undoubtedly thinking about her two missionaries. I am so blessed to call Pam Tucker my mom even though I take it for granted. I love you so much mom. 
6. Russell M. Nielsen's talk on women. It was incredible! I thought of all the incredible women in my life. Grandma, Mom, Megan, and Lexi- you mean the world to me. I would be no where without you four. Never forget how crucial you are to us men. 
7. Thomas S. Monson. It is always a pleasure to hear from our prophet that we all take for granted. I think it was a major wake up call of how much we take him for granted when he started leaning on the pulpit and struggled to finish his talk. Just about broke my heart. I absolutely adore that man! We are so lucky to have him at the head of the Church. His message on being a light to the world was inspiring. 

Sunday night I went to the talk "Recognizing the Spirit" given by Elder Bednar at the MTC a while ago. It was a game changer for me. It is about 45 mins long if any of you wanna look it up. There is one video I want you all to watch that is only about 15 minutes. It is about a kid who served in Latvia and it pretty accurately depicts all that I am going through and will go through. Elder Braxton Chipman suggested I watch it and it changed everything for me! Here is the link:

Language update:
So on Monday we got to do Skype TRC where we Skype a member in Russia and teach a lesson! We got a бабушка (grandma) which everyone wants. She lives in St. Petersburg and she was awesome. She said we spoke good Russian and just went on about how she loves missionaries. Got me soooo excited for the members in Rostov, I know I will love them so much! Speaking of Rostov, last week in normal TRC here at the MTC, we taught a kid and his mom and he got home from Rostov 4 weeks ago. But in TRC we cannot use English, we even asked можно по-английски (which means may we speak english) so we could talk about Rostov and he said no so we couldn't ask much about it and it was kind of awkward but cool. 

Huge shout out to loyal blog readers Emma and Sue Merrill. And big HBD to Emma! 

I love you all! Keep me and the people of Rostov in your prayers! Till next week!

старейшина Tucker

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apple Seeds

Здравствуйте! (Hello!),

In 4 weeks time I will be in Russia!

To start completely off topic, how about them Utes! When I heard the score of that game (and about BYU getting beat) I went to our residence, put on my Ute apparel, and celebrated. I am so proud of them. The blessings of missionary work are clearly already working, you are welcome Ute Nation! All jokes aside, I am the proudest Ute fan Provo has ever had haha. GO UTES! Sunday night, our devotional speaker made all the Ute fans stand and informed us we were ranked 10th. He then said "BYU fans, you just remain seated." He was so funny about that and about missionaries getting written off from girlfriends and other stuff.

It has been a great week! Some cool experiences this week:

Sunday was thankfully my second and final fast Sunday in Provo. But we had a huge surprise. Elder/President Kacher was in town for conference, he is in the area presidency over all the Russian and Ukraine missions. So we had a spur of the moment meeting with just us Russian speakers and the General Authority himself. It was so awesome, he answered our questions and he is a great guy. Coolest part is his next mission tour is in Rostov just 2 days after I get there! So he told me to find him when him and his wife get there. His best line was, "We got to our home in Midway the other night. We have a beautiful home up there. But I walked in and said to my wife, "This is not home, Russia is our home now."" Gave me chills because Russia will be my home so soon! 

Monday we got to watch Elder Scott's funeral which was a nice break from the routine schedule. What a life that man lived! Powerful messages were given and it is always a delight to hear from our incredible Prophet Thomas S. Monson. Speaking of that, the MTC is buzzing with General Conference being this weekend. Everyone, including myself, is pumped! Going to be the best weekend! It is not everyday you get to watch conference as a missionary,  surrounded by 2,000+ missionaries. Going to enjoy it! 

Last night we heard from Elder Costa who is in the Presidency of the Seventy, over Brazil and that area. This week I have heard a couple times that Brazil used to be like Russia - hard people and few baptisms. Brazil now has over 30 missions I believe, and they baptize like crazy. Got me excited! Anyways he was awesome and his best line was, "You can always count how many seeds are in an apple, but it is impossible to know how many apples come from the seeds." His point was we will never know the effect of our mission, whether we have high numbers or not, until the next life. He is a convert and is now a General Authority and all of his kids have been married in the temple and his grand kids are being born into the gospel. All it takes is one baptism to change generations!

Russian is going well. I have 5/6 of the Russian grammar cases memorized so I'll have them all memorized by tomorrow

Love all of you more than you know. The packages, mail, and emails go a long way for us missionaries! I am so lucky to have the people I have in my life and to be able to be a servant of the Lord for the next two years!
Till next week,

-Elder Tucker

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Zdrastvooy family and friends!

I am almost at my halfway mark here at the MTC! Time is going pretty fast and every day down is another day closer to Russia! We are anxiously awaiting the new Russian speakers coming today, our zone is getting 33 newbies! 

This week has been pretty solid.  Sunday night we had Lloyd Newell with us and we did the MTC and the Spoken Word. I was in the choir with about 1,000 other Elders and Sisters. Some pretty powerful hymns! 

The biggest thing I have learned this week is faith. I have had lots of questions this week and even some doubts about certain topics discussed in class. But, I realized that faith is exactly what I was lacking. Faith means to not have a perfect knowledge, to not see, but to believe. So although I do not know everything about this gospel and I am far from knowing Russian, I do have faith. Faith is so key, it is the first principle of this Gospel. Hopefully I can remember that throughout the next two years and throughout my life!

My companion and I had a big milestone this week. We committed our "investigator" to baptism! We had to memorize the baptismal comittment our first week here in Russian and I was so pumped to finally use it. Luckily he said yes and it was awesome. Although it is just our teacher pretending to be a man named Oleg, the Spirit is still felt and we are still preaching the word of God in a new language. Pretty incredible if you ask me! 

Big shoutout to one of my greatest friends Molly Vroom, Happy Birthday! 

I am doing just fine and loving being a missionary. Continue to pray for me and this language! Much love,

Elder Tucker

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lead, Kindly Light

Zdrastvooytye everyone!
Another week down in Provo, and one week closer to Russia! I honestly can not explain how lucky I feel to be going to the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission! It sounds crazy but I have a new, genuine appreciation for Russia- my home for the next two years!
This week I was asked to be the new District Leader and of course, I accepted. I am in thee greatest district of all time and getting to be there leader is such an honor. Seriously I have gotten so close with this group and we have so much love for each other and quite the bond! 
We said goodbye to 35 Elders and Sisters this week that are off to Russia and Ukraine! Thankfully we are getting tons of newbies next Wednesday which we are all pumped for! 
Yesterday we had a huge surprise for us- we got our Russian name tags! Usually those do not come until you are about a week or two from leaving. So we got ours way early. We cannot wear them here but they look sweet! 
Fun fact of the week, I am in love with hymns. That is something I never thought I would say but it is all we can listen to so I blast MoTab every day. The hymn Lead, Kindly Light has a special place in my heart. I have to hold back my tears when we sing it ,in Russian and English- it is my favorite.  Listen to it !!

I am so happy and loving being a missionary. You can feel the Spirit in our lessons (although they are purely in Russian). This gospel is and always will be true, it is my job and privilege to share it with the people of Rostov!
As always, thanks for the emails, Dear Elders, packages, love, and support. Truly keeps me going. 
-Elder Tucker

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Elder Fairbanks

Another week down in Provo! Things are going well minus the fact that everyone here including yours truly is sick. Also, Russian is still Russian and it can be quite discouraging at times. But I am having a good time, I have been blessed with the greatest district, but we had lots of tears shed this week saying goodbye to Elder Fairbanks.
Elder Fairbanks was actually born in Russia but was adopted at a young age and lives in Indiana. That kid knew how to brighten my day no matter what. He was so funny and I would take him to all my friends so he could do his unreal impersonation of Liam Neeson and the Joker! Seeing him go home was hard on us all but we know it was the right decision for him. We all love you Justin Fairbanks! 
Other than that, the week has been great. Last Wednesday I got to see Elder Hannes du Randt and Elder Braxton Chipman right as they got to the MTC. There is nothing like running up to some of my best friends for a big old hug. Honestly keeps me going. Took me a while to find Elder Ben Randle but I did and he is doing great! We said bye to Elder Calvin Cook last night as he left for Des Moines this morning. He will be great! 
I thank you all for the love and support. I got 5 Dear Elders the other day AND a package and the happiness that brings me is almost equivalent to hearing about my Utes! Already ranked only one week in? Yes I am reppin my Ute socks in Provo today. 
Everyone please continue to keep in touch and keep me in your prayers- especially for the gift of tongues. Russian has been quite the struggle for me.
Go Rams, Go Utes! 
Till next week,
PICS: My district at the temple
Me and Fairbanks 
-Elder Tucker