Monday, January 25, 2016


Hello from Krasnodar! 

It has been quite the week! 

First part of the week was the visa trip. Honestly I do not even know what days we were what, it is all a blur. We woke up at 4AM one day and flew from Rostov to Armenia then to Moscow and back to Rostov. We landed in Rostov at 2AM the next day so it was an exhausting trip. Armenia had some mountains, which were pretty cool and way nice people.  Armenia also had some good American Fast Food.

Thursday I hopped on a train and came down to Krasnodar! Let's just say Krasnodar could not be more different from Volzhky. Polar opposites. But I love it here so much! Krasnodar is a big, modern city and I am honestly so lucky to serve here!

My new companion is Elder T. from Novosibirsk, Russia! He is 22 years old and served in the Russian army as a paratrooper. He is a stud and has the greatest heart. He is taking great care of me and he speaks pretty good Russian haha. No but really it has been nothing short of incredible to see him do the work here in his native tongue. Let's just say everything goes a little smoother. 

We try to speak English in the apartment and Russian out on the streets. From what I hear, Elder T hardly knew any English before the mission and I am only his second American companion and he is already speaking English so well. It is way awesome and we both laugh so hard about our language mistakes and just funny sentences that happen when you are speaking a second language. Don't worry, the 1st thing I taught him was how to say "Go Rams" and "Go Utes" and now he just says them at random times, it is too good. It is really cool to be able to help each other out with the language. We already have a great friendship and I absolutely love serving with him. 

Saturday we got to do some service which I have not been able to do much of so far, so that felt great. We are helping a member's friend build a house. It was some good hard work, in some freezing cold weather. We will be going back this week to continue! 

Sunday was the best. The branch here is HUGE. They have their own big building with multiple floors and rooms which sounds stupid, I have not been use to that! There are lots of members here in Krasnodar and they were all so welcoming and loving. They were so excited to have a couple new missionaries! I felt the love and the Spirit so strong during sacrament meeting. It was different just sitting in the normal seats the whole meeting and listening to talks! I loved it!  In Volzhky we only had 2 hours of Church and here there is all 3 hours! Lots of great people, some speak English really well, I am excited to get to know them all better. 

I will end with a huge miracle from yesterday. The third hour of church had just ended and we walked downstairs by the main entrance and a guy walked in named Mihal. Apparently he was at church last week also, but no one really saw him. He said he had some time so we taught him the first lesson with a member present. Everything went really well and he seemed prepared. By the end, he committed to baptism on February 20th!! Honestly, when he said yes I started crying a little. Just felt so good and I had never seen someone commit to baptism before,  let alone so quickly. We were not even expected to meet Mihal yesterday but the Lord delivered him to us and now we will be working with him, towards baptism!
All is well in K-Dar! Till next week! Love to all of you!!  P.S. I may not be able to post many pictures for the next little bit.  I will when I can.  

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

P.S. Forgot to tell you that, the Johnstons are the only senior couple in the mission and they live here in
Krasnodar.  They are from Utah, fun fact, Sister Johnston's maiden name is Tucker!!  They are such great people, we were able to watch a worldwide missionary broadcast at their apartment and Sister Johnston made us some great food.  I love them and I am happy they are here!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Won The Lottery..haha

Well I will start with the big news in regards to transfers! Friday we had to be in most of the day, without water as a repair took place and we were just anxiously awaiting our call from President. It felt like waiting for a mission call again! President got on the phone and told us he was making some changes and said, "Elder Tucker, you won the lottery." So my new area is Krasnodar and the biggest news is my new companion is a native Russian and one of the Zone Leaders there! Krasnodar is on the complete opposite side of the mission, down south and I have heard nothing but good things. Having a Russian companion is the biggest blessing in the world, it is like everyone's dream. It is really rare because most of our Russians serve in an area where Americans are not allowed right now so I did indeed win the lottery!

It was a way good, busy week! 
Spent a couple days here in Volzhky on splits with one Zone Leader, Elder Barlocker who is such a stud! Learned a lot from him and we had a good time together! He is from Enterprise, Utah and is known for breaking horses. He is such a hard worker and he has served as District Leader, Assistant to the President, Counselor in Branch Presidency and Zone Leader. He is the best! 

Got to visit Fergie a couple times this week as well as our most recent convert Andre. She made me my first Borsch and then we made it with her the second time- it was so good! We had some good lessons with them and Fergie was at church once again this week!  Wahoo!!

We had President and Sister Miner with us the other night in Volzhky so that we could have interviews and Sister Miner could check our apartment. It was so great to have them over, they are simply the best ever!!

Yesterday was a big, sad day. First of all the District Presidency was in Volzhky to make some callings! We got us a Russian Branch President and 1st Counselor and Financial Secretary! It was so awesome, some members were raising both hands to sustain them and before it was even asked for. The branch was so excited and we finally had 20 in attendance! 
I was able to give a short talk/testimony and announce my departure. I shared Mosiah 4:3 and related it to how I have felt every week at church here in Volzhky. Then it was time for goodbyes. Everyone was so sweet to me wishing me the best of luck and happiness. They all told me I have to come back and I can only hope and pray that I will be able to. They all told me how nice and warm Krasnodar is and they were just giving me so many compliments and it was too nice of them! Had some hard goodbyes and a few tears shed. I never thought I would fall in love with a place this quickly but this branch will always have a piece of my heart! I have learned and grown so much here and will never forget these people! (hard to say goodbye)

Last night we went into Volgograd and I got to participate in the setting apart of our new Branch President and he told President Miner how special Elder Barnes and I have been, unlike any missionaries before he said. It was really nice of him. Then we had a great fireside and I got to say goodbye to the missionaries and the members in Volgograd who I also have so much love for. 
It has been hard to say bye but I am really excited for a new area and companion. I hear the Krasnodar branch is big and really well established with some incredible members so that will be awesome. I am leaving behind my big winter coat and many memories but looking forward to the future! 

Tonight I will sleep in Volgograd then take the big bus ride to Rostov tomorrow. Then we will head to the airport to fly to Moscow then Armenia then back to Moscow and back to Rostov then a big train ride to Krasnodar so I should be there by Thursday night, or possibly Friday!!

This week I have learned that I know from the bottom of my heart that I am supposed to be in this exact mission at this exact time. I just simply know it. How great is my calling!  Love to you all!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Pictures- eating Borsch, friend-Justin B., pictures of our zone,  getting mail!!

Monday, January 11, 2016


Hey everyone! 

Hope you all had a good week, I had a real solid week! 

Had a way awesome experience this week. The other night I was just feeling down, no idea why but it was just an off day! So I prayed a lot to have something to lift me up and that is exactly what happened, that night as we visited Sister (Nicknamed Fergie). We have met with her a few times and I should not play favorites but she is definitely one of them. She is in her 40's or 50's and is the happiest person, so much fun to be around. She just bought a skateboard last week to learn how to ride. We asked her how she is always so happy and she simply responded "I choose to be. Even when things are going bad, I just choose to be happy." She is incredible, however has not come to church the whole time we have been here. So we had a good lesson, and she made us the best homemade Russian Bleene I have ever had and we were about to close with a prayer but I felt prompted to bring up church. I have given her a hard time about it in the past but this time I just said how badly I want to see her on Sunday! She always wants to come to church but says she just can't get up on Sunday mornings so I said I would call her Sunday morning at 8 AM and she said "I'm waiting for your phone call!" Called her Sunday morning, she was as cheery as ever, and she came to church yesterday! Not only that, she said she felt the Spirit so strongly that she is going to come more often now. Made me so happy! 

Speaking of Sunday it was the greatest day, like always. We had 19 people in Sacrament meeting and everyone but one stayed for Sunday School and for some food after. I love the Volzhky branch! Then yesterday afternoon we got to go to Volgograd for a District Training for the Branch Presidencies and Relief Society Presidencies in our District. It was so awesome. It is such a testimony builder to see how the Church is really the same worldwide- same callings, same doctrine, same spirit, same truth, no matter where, no matter what language. Also got to see all the missionaries there and the members there who I also love so much! Hope I get to serve in Volgograd one day! 

This week is the last week of transfers and my last week of training! Pretty scary to think about, but really exciting too! Also might be my last week in Volzhky which makes me so sad, but who knows!
I love you all so very much!! Have a good week! Thanks for all the love, emails, prayers!!

-Elder Tucker//Старейшина Таккер

Pictures- I love Volzhky,  River-Winter in Russia

Monday, January 4, 2016


Big Happy New Year from Russia!

First things first, Welcome Home to the other Elder Tucker. Cannot believe you are at home! Wednesday night as I was going to bed, I could not help but think, of all of you reuniting at the airport. Luckily, Sister Miner happened to call that night to check on our winter clothes and she always boosts my spirits. If anyone knows the feeling of sacrificing family for missionary work, it is my Savior Jesus Christ and the Miners. I am really lucky to have them!

Speaking of winter clothes, Russia winter got real this week. It has been between -10 and -15 all week and let me just tell you, it is cold. However we take advantage of the cold temperatures by sliding on the ice like the Russians do. We also have been setting a cup of water outside the window and within minutes we have some tasty ice water. 

New Years was pretty crazy! We of course went to bed at the normal time, but I was woken up shortly after midnight to a sky full of fireworks. It sounded as if there was a constant thunderstorm outside. There were fireworks everywhere, quite the site! 

On New Years we had Goals Night! I have a new obsession with goals and a New Year is a perfect time to set them. I have spent multiple hours creating a goals contract for myself including year long goals, plans to achieve them, who I am accountable to, etc. I wish I could share them all but for the sake of time I am just going to share my vision and motivation. My vision for this year is encompassed by Matthew 25:21. My motivation is that this is the most important year for my life. 2016 is my one and only full year as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here in Russia. These are a sacred 365 days in which I can become the missionary, disciple, child of God that He wants me to be. I've been given the blessings to reach my God given potential- this is the year to recognize and improve them. This is thee year! 

As you can tell, I am pretty pumped for 2016.  It should be a great one!

We have a new investigator named Monsal! He is from Africa, so his first language is English but he has been here forever, he is married to a Russian, and owns four pharmacies so he speaks flawless Russian as well. He is a great guy, he even bought us McDonalds the other night, and is anxious to learn more. We got him a Book of Mormon and will be meeting with him this week hopefully, he is super busy! 

Fast Sunday was great! I honestly cannot believe I have already had 3 fast Sundays in Russia- time flies. I have a new appreciation for fasting and look forward to the opportunity to do so each month. I was able to share my testimony about the true meaning of Christmas because it is Christmas here on Friday! We had the District President with us and he is the best. He taught Sunday School and he just has such a powerful testimony and so much Church knowledge. He also brought his 4 year old son who shared a memorized verse as his testimony and I had a good chat with him as he taught me how to say the different colors in Russian.
As far as Russian goes, I have felt the Gift of Tongues so much this week! I have been less afraid to talk and make mistakes, in fact I love making mistakes and learning from them. I am understanding more and more and able to speak more each day. Obviously still have so much work to do but it has felt good to see and feel some progress! 
I just want to end by saying how much I love Russia and my mission. Even if I had all the time in the world on Mondays I could not even begin to fully explain this magical place. You just have to see it to believe it. And just know these weekly reports are missing lots due to me typing in a hurry but that I seriously see miracles every day and my testimony is strengthened every single day.  Love you all!!
Merry Russian Christmas this week! 
-Elder Tucker

Pictures - our new hats and scarves, and the sign says Merry Christmas and Happy New Year