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