Friday, August 28, 2009

Last letter from the MTC (August 11, 2009)

Dear Mom,

How is it going? If you are reading this, I'm guessing I'm in Russia. Wow. That's crazy.

Also, thank you for the calling card info. I've written it down, and I'll be calling you on the 18th.

I'm glad that you were able to get "Week 9 in the MTC." I was surprised that you didn't receive it because I know I sent it to you.

I'm glad you were able to talk to Jerome. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten received any letters from him or Happi. :( Please tell them I said hello.

I'm not really looking forward to Russian food, although I hope I canfind an Uzbek restuarant and eat plov again. I have beendreaming of eating it for so long.

That's funny that you mentioned the sisters' zones of the Temple Square Mission. There is a Sister Cummins in here who is going there that I was good friends with at BYUI.

Your story about Auntie Pat and you when you came home from your mission was funny. I wonder if I will be uncomfortable saying prayers in English. Perhaps?

Which mothers have you met on I know elder Olson's and apsley's mothers are on there. That's crazy you have seen me on other people's blogs!

No, I will not keep my hair as long as you saw. Right now I have it pretty short. I get my hair cut at least at least two times a month.

We have many missionaries going together, but 10 of us are going to Rostov -- 7 in my district and 3 native speakers. I know all of us.

As for service, I clearn building 13 every Thursday morning, and I have cleaned every part of that building. I've cleaned toilets, showers, floors, trash - literally everything.

Well I hope all is well. I think I will just be emailing from now on!


your son,

Elder Curran

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Week 1 in Tuapse

Wow. . . . . I cant believe its been one week. I really had no idea what to expect when I was coming out here but it has been a great week. After meeting my companion, Elder Porter, from Heber AZ, and getting to know him a little, we get along just fine. He's way funny and has tons of stories. He's been here for 21 months, so he speaks Russian almost perfectly, in my opinion. Which has its pros and cons. It's definately a blessing, because we can actually answer questions people have about the church. But at the same time we understand all the terrible things that people are saying to us.

I didn't expect to do so much knocking, but that's pretty much all we do. We wake up at 6:30, do some pushups and sit ups, and eat, shower, and get dressed. 8 - 9 is personal study. 9-10 is companionship study. Then we're out the door. On the way to our knocking area, we talk to people which usually consists of people either telling us to get lost or politely telling us they are "Praveslavni" which is the Othodox Russian Faith and that they are not intrested in hearing from us. When we get to our knocking area, we knock which consists of dogs barking at us literally for 4 hrs and people either telling us to get lost or that they are "Praveslavni" and are not interested. Then at 2, we go home have lunch and language study and do it again for another 4 hrs. Very occasionally, someone lets us in and listens to or agrees to meet with us at a later time. From those that either let us in ( Maybe 6 this week) none have actually met with us again :(. WE do however have 3 investigators, 2 of whom we have taught once this week and one we can't meet with right now because he was accused for killing his wife? IDK?

But anyway I have never been so tired and hungry as I have been this week. I lost 8 pounds this week. Ohhh . . and we aren't allowed to eat dinner. Breakfast, lunch, and that's it :(

Tuapse is extremly mountainous, so I'm pretty much walking up and down mountains all day. I convinced my companion to start English Club, so we have been promoting that for a few days and will start in a week and a half. Today, while my companion was getting a hair cut I somehow talked to an old gradmother about it and told her that her son should come to our free english class. She told us we were sent from God. And in my head I ws like "FINALLY! someone gets it," but I knew she was just grateful we had a free english class.

Only 2 guys tried to start fights with us, and they were under the influence. But surprisingly we have made quite a few friends who were under the same influence. Go figure. The Russian word for Black people is the "N" word, but its not a bad word to them, so I literally hear the N word all day, since I'm probably the first black person they have seen in person. So . . . yeah thats gonna take some getting used to.

Our apt is a dump, but we make it home. It's hot as all get out here, but at least we have air conditioning. I'm so grateful for that. At church, there are probably 6 active members, including the Branch President and his wife. So even though I escaped 12 weeks of giving a talk in the MTC, yes I had to talk in church, in Russian, to Russians. I think I did alright. Noone has thrown any rotten vegtables my way, but Ill let you know what happens.

Even though this week have had its downs, I have come so much closer to my Heavenly Father, because I honestly don't know what I'm doing and I need all the help I can get. I know that my Heavenly Father cares and loves all of his children tons! Well, that was my first week in Tuapse aka California of Russia ;) (In my opinion)

love Elder Curran

P.S. please forward this on to anyone and I would love to hear from you. Please write me at instead of writing an actual letter. If the letter got here, it would take 6 weeks and email is just so much more convienent ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Insane Trip, but Arrival Safe and Sound

K. So . . . . I made it. I'm in Russia. But seriously the trip there was insane. So insane that I cannot speak of it for fear that as I sit here in the Russia Internet Club in Rostov, I will break down for the dreaded memories that happened only 48 hours ago.

Ok . . . Im just playin. Its not that bad but seriously it was nuts, and truly a day of Nostalgia. I left the Provo MTC!!!!!!! finally !!!!! I waited for this day forever. And headed to the Salt Lake City Airport. (The place I was born - the city, not the airport) We took off and we were "rolling deep" (tons of missionaries) on the plane. The plane ride to Atlanta wasn't that bad, and I even tried to preach the gospel, but the girl to the right of me was already a member and the guy to my right said he only spoke German. I thought he was just saying that so I wouldn't talk to him, but when he spilled coke all over my suit he still couldn't say anything in English, so I believed him.

When we got to Atlanta, I ate a delicious burrito, which is the closest thing that I will have to chipotle and headed to Moscow. The flight was 11 hours long, but since I wasn't that tired I didnt really sleep. Instead one of the members of my district in the MTC got this Russian lady to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. (She wasnt interested.) And I had about a 3hr conversation with the lady in front of me ( I understood 20% of it) about religion. She took my Book of Mormon and promised to read and pray about it.

After a very long plane ride, we landed in Moscow and then waited in an airport (that I used to fly into all the time) that didn't have air conditioning or air and were greeted by the Moscow Mission President. Although it was good to see a friendly face, it was sad because we still had half of our trip to go, and we were saying goodbye to a lot of the elders that came in with us on June 3rd. We then said goodbye to them and headed to the American Embassy (where I lived for 2 years in middle school), and got our passports. I tried to sneak into the residential area to see my old house, but the security guard apprently liked his job and would not accept any type of smooth talking, flattery, or bribery.

After we came out of the Embassy, we waited outside for the bus and for the driver and somebody who looked like he had been staring at me for a while said "Hi" so of course I gave him a friendly wave back and said HI. Confused he told loudly no in Russian "NYET!" and said HEIL . . . . HEIL HITLER !!!!! Then continued to repeat this many times very loudly and angrily. Although I was very taken aback, I didn't get scared out of my mind until other random people on the street started screaming it too. At that point, the Russian lady helping us out had us get on the bus where I did some serious self reflection on what had just happened. I'm still not sure.

Anyway, we flew drove 3 hrs to another airport in Russia and were given some intructions in Russian and sent off by ourselves. After asking about 6 people where to go, we found where to go. All of the elders with me had never been to Russia b4 and were literally in "shock." I used all the Russian I knew and got us where we had to be, and got our luggage all checked in. We waited for about 5 hrs, and then flew to Rostov. We were greeted by President Nechiporov, and I almost started to cry. The whole day was so miserable. I was so tired. I hadn't slept in a day and a half ,and when I heard the president speak, I felt the spirit so strong, which reminded me of comfort and it was just so pleasant. We drove to the mission home and 5 min of being there, I notice a picture of a kid from Russia that used to go to BYUI and I was good friends with. I asked the Mission President how he knew him, and he said it was his son! Thats nuts.

Well, that's my story. The Mission pres and his wife are amazing, and Rostov is hot and insane. But I'm ready. My new comp is Elder Porter who is 5'1 and prob 119 lbs, and we are going to serve is Tuapse. I'm excited. I'll let you know what happens !!!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First E-mail from Russia

I got here safe, but the trip was insanity. I had only been here 15 min and noticed that I was good friends with the Mission President's son at BYUI. Crazy.

What is your other email? I only know AOL. Also My new companion is Elder Porter. We are serving in Tuapse. I think he is 5'1 and 110 pounds, but he seems cool. He has been out for a while, so I'm glad because Ill need all the help I can get. I haven't taught anyone yet but by next week I should. TTYL !!!

love Elder Curran

P.S. PLease do whatever it takes to get the peanut. It is my only source for shaving.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

By The Time You Read This Letter ...... (August 4 letter)


I'm pretty sure when you read this I will be in Russia. (It's true!)

Ok, now to your letters. Someone follows my blog? Try to find out who it is. Maybe I know this person. Also, how many comments have been left?

Elder Apsley was correct. We taught native speakers last week and this week also. It wasn't too bad. I'm more worried about native speakers, who are not members already or missionaries.

It has sunk in that I'm leaving, and I get my flight plans tomorrow. Thank you for the "cage" story. I haven't seen much of all that, but I can definately see that happening.

Next letter, I'll send the photos you asked for. I needed to cut my hair, but I took more pictures.


your son,

Elder Curran

P.S. Thanks for all the gum! LOL And my dress shoes are fitting great.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Phone call

Elder Curran called from the Salt Lake airport on his way to Russia. It was great to hear his voice. He is so excited to head to the mission field and preach the Gospel.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting Ready to Go (July 28 letter)


I'm doing good. Yeah, I'm really, really excited to get out. They have not given me my flight itinerary yet. They give that to you a week and a half before you go. So, a week from tomorrow.

Also, tomorrow I get to host, which means I'll do what that guy did for me when you dropped me off. Just take me to my room and give me a few words of encouragement.

I will call you from the SLC airport, if I know how. So, you may have to explain that to me via Dear Elder or something.

Yes, I knew the Other Side of Heaven was John Groberg. I had seen the movie before, and he played a part of the movie during his talk. I found out he is from Idaho Falls and is the temple president there.

I think FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange - an exchange program for high school age youth from the former Soviet Union) sounds like a great program. Who determines who goes to the United States and what are the prerequisites? Also, do the kids get to go to American schools for college?

I'll take a picture in the shirt, and I'll also be sending a picture of me and Sister Curran who is here. We say hi to each other every time we see each other. Hey Sister Curran! Hey Elder Curran!

That's too bad I wasn't able to see the video. We can't get online. Google Translate sounds amazing. I wonder what else they will come up with before I return!

Have fun in church.


Your son

Elder Curran

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Testifying in Russian in the RC

Wow. I don’t know what else to say. Wow. I cant believe this day has come. My last P day in the MTC. I remember about 6 weeks ago I was talking about what its gonna be like in Rostov outloud during dinner. Elder Velazquez, an elder going to serve in Vladivostok, looked over at me and said "STOP talking about it ( in a stern but joking manner, we're never gonna leave if you keep talking about it."

As I pondered on his thought I began to realize that we really were never going to leave. We were going to spend the rest of forever sitting in a class learning Russian 12 hrs a day, for the rest of my life. My heart sank as I was converted to what I call the "Velazquez theory." Although at times it felt like this MTC stay was eternal, the light is becoming much brighter ,seeing as a week from this very second I will be thousands of feet in the air headed for Russia.

Many of you are curious to hear the itinerary so I will tell you. We are leaving the MTC at 5 am on the 18th of August for a 8:30 am flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. We land in Atlanta at 2:23pm and have a layover until we depart for Moscow at 4:15 pm. We then arrive in Moscow on the 19th of August, exactly 23 years after I was born ;) ( my birthday) at 11:00 am. We have quite the layover for we are leaving Moscow at 7:00 pm and arrive the 19th of August, again my bday;), to my mission in Rostov-Na-Danu, Russia.

The MTC has been quite the experience. An experience I had yesterday put the icing on the cake for me, and I will allow you to taste of it as well. So like every other Monday we went to the RC. I sat down I put on my headphones and proceded to sign in and click the "Go to Work" icon which allows you to begin calling different people who requested either a church movie or a Bible. We ask them if they recieved and if they enjoyed what we sent them, then testify about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and ask if we could have two representatives from our Church drop one off for free. Anyway, the first two people I called were out of order so I proceded to the 3rd number. The name popped up on the screen which read Alberto Torres. I was expecting noone to pick up because it it rang about 7 times. But, startlingly a voice picked up and I proceeded to read the prompts. "Hey this is James with the Church of Jesus Christ. Is Alberto Torres there?" No. he said. "Oh, do you live with Alberto" No this is Yeli, you have the wrong number. At this point my instinct was to say I'm sorry and hang up, but something told me to go on and testify. "Oh well our message is for everyone ( I then proceeded to testify of the Love of God and the power of His Son Jesus Christ" He then responded I'm Jewish. Not really knowing where to go from there I really wanted to just hang up but something kept pushing me to go on. I then proceed to talk about the Book of Mormon and my testimony that it was true and asked if I could send him one for free. He told me he was leaving and going out of town tomorrow for a few months and he wouldn't be able to get it.

At that point I felt like I was wasting his time and I could be talking with someone else that was actually interested and REALLY REALLY wanted to hang up. But something told me to keep talking to him. I asked him where he was going. He said he was going to visit his family and then . . . I asked where his family lived. Ukraine he said. My heart immediatly began to pump like crazy. For those of you that don't know, Ukraine is a former part of the Soviet Union and most everyone from there speaks Russian, which happens to be the language I have been learning for the past 10 weeks. Now, up to this point, I knew he had an accent but I couldn't tell from where and asumed he was Hispanic simply because of who I supposed to be calling. After I learned he was from Ukraine, I asked in Russian if he spoke Russian. He responded of course and I proceed to pull out 10 weeks of training and testified my brains out. I've never been so nervous and focused at the same time. I taught him about prophets and the priesthood and the great apostasy. (All in Russian) I then asked him "Yeli there are so many churches on the Earth, how are we to know which church is true? " He responded good question. I then recited from memory James 1:5 in Russian which basically says that If anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God in Faith, and God will answer. I told him of a young boy named Joseph Smith who also was curious as to which church is true and read that scripture and decided to do that very thing." I then recited the First Vision in Russian and told him that I knew it was true. That Joseph Smith saw God, our Heavenly Father, that day and his son Jesus Christ and that through Joseph Smith the Church of Jesus Christ was restored on the earth." ( ALL IN RUSSIAN MIND YOU) I then asked him how he felt and after a long pause he told me that he felt it was true. I've never been so happy in my whole life. To make a long story short we pulled some strings, and he is going to be meeting with the Missionaries in Ukraine, maybe with some of the Elders I know here?, in the next following weeks and I'm way excited.

Well this is my last email from the MTC, but my stay has been worthwhile. I know this Church is true and feel free to write me on here: :)
I'll be using email from now on since then mail in Russia is suspect.

P.S. If there is anyone you know that would like to read this please fwd it to them !!!!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Readership, Corn on the Cob, Ties, and Knockout (July 21 Letter)


So, yesterday an elder came up to me. I forgot his last name, but he is going Russian-speaking, and he told me his mom reads the blog you're making. So, that was pretty cool.

The other two elders in the picture I sent were Elder Apsley (reading Ensign) and Elder Probst. They are my roommates, 4 in total. And that was their desk. [the messy one in the photo]

So, the corn was good. I'm glad. They haven't had corn on the cob available in the MTC, so it's going to be a while until I have American corn on the cob. I wonder why American corn is sweeter than Turkmen corn? [American sweet corn has been bred to meet the "sweet tooth" tastes of Americans. Turkmen corn, like most corn in other parts of the world, is used also to feed animals. It's not as sweet or soft. Interestingly, the Turkmen boil corn silk to make a tea.]

Your district leader story was nice. and the part about Ms. Piggy was funny. I don't think they do all girl districts any more, because all of the districts are intermingled here.

The language is coming along fine. I teach every Wednesday a lesson in Russian and a few times throughout the week.

Once you get the Hepworth's e-mail, will you e-mail it to Olivia, please - to add to the chain?

The four people on the volleyball team are Elder Kempton, Elder Olson, Elder Valazquez, and me. We do have sisters in our gym, but I try to avoid playing sports with them, because they are not athletic and slow down the game. [Mom editorial comment: Huh?!]

As for the ties, I really liked one, and the other one was nice. It was nice to have something new. the one I really like is light blue and white with some purple, and the other one is dark green.

An elder from Belarus may have come in today, but I have not met him.

Lightning or Knockout is a game with two basketballs. Everyone lines up and shoots from the three-point line. After the first person shoots, the next person has an opportunity to shoot and score to make the basket before the first does a lay up. If he makes it before the person in front of him, the person in front is out. The last man standing is the winner!

Well Mom, thanks again for the ties,


Your son,

Elder Curran

P.S. You might want to check out A few of the other elders in my district mothers are on there. I think you would like it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Week 9 in the MTC

Hmmmm Honestly I don't even know what week it is. Have I been here 9 weeks or 14 years? Does anyone remember where I was born? Because I feel like I was made from a testbube and some kind of incubator and have been a missionary all my life. I'm just playing.

Its week 9 in the MTC and tommorrow I get my flight plans. This is a very significant day because I remember when the older Elders who were going Russian speaking recieved theirs, and I also remember crying for an extended period of time knowing that it would be quite some time until I would ever recieve mine, or ever begin to think about leaving the MTC. But I can safely say that I can see the light. And yes that light is bright. To quote the late Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin "Sunday will come" and if anyone is feeling down or feels like they are trapped in an unhappy place I encourage you to listen to that talk! AMAZING.

So What happened this week? I dont even know? Seriously.

Ok ,well I guess I will talk about Sunday's fireside. It was given by Brother and Sister Mills who served as Mission Presidents in Japan at the age of 36. It wasn't your typical Fireside which isn't a bad thing, but I did feel like I had paid for tickets to a stand up comedy routine. It was Hilarious. Sister Mills pretty much made fun of herself for 30 minutes and then gave a quick yet powerful testimonial about the power of missionary work. Brother Mills, although equally as funny, gave a more spiritual message about how a Mission can change you. He showed multiple slides of Before and After pictures of many Elders and Sisters who literally morphed during two years of their mission. Not all were as dramatic but each picture showed a happier individual. I hope that the work can change me equally, so that the happiness of my countance is noticable.
Yesterday We started the SYL portion of the MTC stay where we can only speak in Russian from here on out. Our district has done similar mock trial of this program for 2 or 3 days but this is the BIG one and we are doing this until we leave. And now that I think about it until we return from Russia. (Two small tears gently just rolled from my cheek)

Today as I was listening to the song "I need thee every hour", while doing my laundry, I actually translate the song unconsciously and began singing it in Russian. So I guess the Russian is coming along well. We taught the Russian native Missionaries the 3rd lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week, and it went over quite well.

As I wake tomorrow there will be no Missionary in the MTC, who has been here longer than me. That is also crazy to think about.

Well not too much has happened, but as with every week my testimony has been strengthened, and I am more sure than ever that the true Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth. I know that a perfect plan has been created so that we may obtain eternal happiness. I know that life on this earth is not the end and that we can choose to have so much more. I know that everyone has hardships, but through those hardships we can grow and learn to appreciate every blessing that we have. I know that as we live righteously and always try to walk the path of Christ, we will receive more blessings from God than we can handle. I also know that only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, can all men be saved.

Please pray tonight to your loving Heavenly Father and sincerely ask him 2 things. 1) Do you love me? and 2) Will my life improve with a firmer faith in Christ. I know that if you do these these, you will feel closer to your Heavenly Father and have a stronger love for your Savior Jesus Christ.

I love you all.

Your favorite Missionary ;),

Elder Curran

P.S. If there is anyone that you think would love to read this message please forward it on :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

More MTC Photos

Brandt and Elder Belashov (aka Elder Banana)

District at Provo Temple

He Men


4th of July Fireworks


Elder Curran and Elder Olson

Brandt with Olivia's friend, Steph
(Where is she going?)

That's where I'm going!
Practicing to do battle with evil

Looking toward departure (July 14th letter)

Dear Mom,

I'm glad you liked the pictures. I'll send more in this letter.

The referral center was good this week. I committed two more people to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it's true. I really haven't had any time so I still need to call Randall back along with the two new investigators. They seem to really be interested.

I received the debit card. So far, I bought a Russia t-shirt and a lot of pictures to send to the people who write me. All the Russia t-shirts are the same. Each country has its own t-shirt. It's not by mission.

As for the ties, you don't have to send me any. It would be nice to get one, but I want to like it. So, if you do, please consult Olivia.

My departure date is August 17, and they have not told me anything about my visa. So, I am assuming that is a good thing.

Stareyeshina Belashov ili Banan (or Banana) joined the Church in Ukraine through the LDS missionaries. He said he joined without a full testimony but knew that it was a good church and gained a testimony of the Restoration/Gospel after baptism.

Well, good luck with work and your speeches.

I hope it goes well.

Love, Your son

Elder Curran