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.