Monday, September 18, 2017

Missing Towel and a Jungle Cruise Guide


This week was a pretty interesting one. 
Well first things first. I mentioned in my last email that our Kiev Temple was getting a new Angel Moroni. This week they told us that they were going to do it. So from the first of the week we were watching intently, checking up on the progress of the scaffolding and such every once in a while. But it was on Wednesday that things started looking interesting. We saw that they were putting scaffolding way up above the Angel Moroni and were seeing if they would change him that day but it didn't happen then. But the very next day we get up and get out a little earlier to go take pictures of this historic event as part of our responsibilities as Office Elders. We were walking and then once we turned the corner onto the street were the temple is located we look up and see that they had already taken the old Moroni off and was half way down the spire. We ran as fast as we could to get into the office and grab the camera so we could take pictures. We ended up not needing to hurry all that much because it was a pretty slow process moving the Angel Moroni. So for the next little bit we were out in the rain and taking a whole bunch of pictures of the whole thing. It was a very interesting thing to see. We got to see the unboxing of the New Angel Moroni and him get put up and the old one come down and get set on the ground. After that we got to see more up close what happened. His arm,face and ankles were all blackened and even had a gash in his ankle. That day we had a training for the new missionary who just came in. So when it came time for the them to put on the Angel Moroni we let them know and they all came out and watched him be put on. 
We had our English Practices as usual but what was unusual was the fact that we had Elder and Sister Foley come and help with our English Practice. At the end of our practices we usually had a story we tell in English and have one of the natives translate. So this time Elder Foley got up at the end a told the story. He told us about how he was for a few years worked at Disney Land as one of the Guides on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disney Land. Every one loved it. 
We had an exchange with our Zone Leaders and had some interesting experiences. Elder Lundquist and I came here to the ward building early to help with a baptism that the Pechersky Elders were doing. It was fun trying to deal with all the little problems that kept coming up. Like for example the power kept going out and we didn't have any towels in the building for the baptism. AS far as the towels go we looked and looked and could't find anything. So in the end we just put a couple extra jump suits out for them to dry with. What was interesting though was the fact that after the service we went into the changing room to grab the suits and only the one that the recently baptized person wore was wet. It is still a mystery what they dried themselves with. 
Yesterday we went to go help a member get to church. Everything was fine for the fact that she never showed up to our meeting spot or ever answered our calls. We waited for a while and  tried to get a hold of her but eventually had to just leave if we wanted to get to church. When we got there she was already there and had a disgusted look on her face that she shot at us. We still don't know where on earth she was waiting for us to take her. I gave a short talk in church which was a huge success because there are so many members in this ward that the missionaries get drowned out most of the time. Afterwards every one would come up and congratulate me and compliment me on how good my Russian was. I have a feeling that the only reason why they all complimented me on how good my Russian was because they all think that I am just fresh out of the MTC. In that case my Russian would be really good. 
So another week here in Ukraine and the work is going forward. The Book of Mormon is the best ever and being a missionary is one of the sweetest things a person can do. I love this work and the Lord Jesus Christ. The office is fun too.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

p.s. I don't think I can send pictures of the New Angel Moroni yet because it hasn't apeared on the official church sites yet. 

Traveling in Time and Metting a Viking


Hello everyone!
This is Elder Clawson again. 
You probably already knew that since my name probably comes up before you opened this email.
Or you might have seen the beginning of the email just in your inbox before you opened and saw my name in the beginning of the email. 
This week I got sick for a day, we went back in time, then back to the future, and met a viking. 
Sunday was great. Besides the fact that I got a cold that luckily only lasted that day. 
We went on splits with the Zone Leaders because they had too many lessons that day. I went with Elder Burek and that was the first time I met a viking. The first look at his front door made me think that we were going to have some kind of special experience and then the door bell confirmed that impression. The door opened and there was a viking standing in the doorway. Super blonde and hairy. He was shirtless and had Long braided hair and beard. He was super nice though. 
On Monday we went for P-day to something called an escape room. Basically it's like one of those puzzles online where you are stuck in a room and have to figure out how to get out but in real life. The one we did was pretty cool. We went back in time and had to find a mind reading device and then go to the future and read someone's mind and then get out. We had an hour to solve it and we finished with six minutes left.  That was fun.
Things felt kind of slow this week but things were still good. And despite things feeling slow here we saw many many miracles. 
Also I got some pictures finally from last week. So yeah, here you go. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

We had a family home evening and we acted out some of the Book of Mormon stories. (They couldn't find their "Nephi hats" so I wore a regular hat). I was Lemuel and she was Nephi

Here is the picture of us after we escaped the room (It was actually two rooms). I am holding the mind reading device (they called it the "Milophone"). 

Elder Lundquist had us take a selfie as we were helping the Temple Accommodations here on the temple grounds to make all of their beds. 

Just another 9-5 day at the office


I never thought I was going to have a desk job. Let alone on my mission. I guess it has its perks though. I mean I get to know tons of stuff. And I also get to work a lot more closely with President Kumferman. 
This week I came up from Cherkassy and met my new companion. Elder Glade is from Washington state and is like an old grandpa with all of his terrible puns and dad jokes.
After I met Elder Glade, Elder Mattina grabbed Elder Johnson whom I was replacing and then they head down to Cherkassy, after they had Domino's. 
At first it was kind of awkward for me because I had these things to do but I didn't really understand exactly what I was supposed to do. That was mainly due to the fact that my companion had other responsibilities as well and therefore wasn't able to help me a ton. But the next day I read the little PDF manuals for us Office Elders and a few videos and then got to work. Now I know what I am supposed to do and what is expected of me. Even though the assignment of office elder is pretty cushy it is pretty crazy and involves a lot of work. A lot of work, as in trying to complete all of our different assignments, complete weekly and monthly reports, help the office senior couple what whatever they need help with as well as every one else,  translating things, setting up for meetings and things like that. And by cushy I mean that we have probably the nicest missionary apartment in the mission and the biggest ward and the most on fire members. We also have comfy office chairs too. 
Here in this area we are at the mission office almost everyday from about 9-5 but on Saturdays we get to weekly plan and do some good proselyting. This past Saturday we went out with our district which consists of us, the Zone Leaders and the Sisters along with five other members from our ward and went balloon contacting. Balloon contacting is when you contact people on the street with balloons. We went to this big park that had lost of kids and families and handed out a ton of balloons. One of the members that came with is was a recently baptized eight year old boy. He is the smallest cutest thing, and he is the best missionary out of all of us. He would always come up to us and ask for a stack of cards and then we would see him run of into the crowd and hand them all out. No one could say no to him. 
Here in this building we have the only building where two units meet in this mission if not in Ukraine. We have the International Branch and the Borshagovsky Ward. We go to both so we get double the fun. Usually what happens is that a senior missionary or another non-Russian-speaking person comes and we have to trans;ate for them but what happened yesterday was the opposite. We were at the International branch and one of the members of the regular Russian/Ukrainian ward came and then I had to translate everything that was going on to him in Russian.
In other news. The Kiev Temple is getting a new Angel Moroni. What happened what a little bit ago the Temple got stuck by lightning and it hit the Angle Moroni. After that the under side of his arm and the trumpet got blackened. So for the past week while the Temple has been closed for cleaning, they have had workers up on top putting scaffolding up to prepare for when hey will replace him with a new one. Other than that it is pretty quiet here most of the time. We do English practice as normal and District meeting and even had my first Office Staff Meeting. Life is good as a missionary. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

   Companionship Unity.
This is with Elder Mattina when we went down to Smela to that crazy hospital. Don't freak out that we aren't wearing name tags. It was just not allowed down there. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pita Bread and a Cross Stitch


That was one of the most stressful weeks of my life.
Let us begin.
So I had the super cool cross stitch project that I was assigned to complete before our Jewish Cultural event on this past Saturday. It was this cool picture of the Star of David with some Jewish embellishments and the word "Shalom" in Hebrew in the center. Everyday it was getting closer and closer to being Saturday and everyday I saw more and more the amount of time it was going to take to complete it. So what had to happen was I had to start devoting every spare second I had to this project and that even didn't seem to cut it. Then came Friday. The day we planned to finish up all of our cooking and preparations for the event the next day at 3:00 pm. So what we did was from the earliest time we could get there, we went to the church and Elder Mattina put on his Italian pants and got cooking. Then the sisters came and started doing the same. All the while I was in the corner embroidering away. Evening came and there was a lot of pita bread left that couldn't be put off because of the stage it was in and we won't even mention the cross stitch project. So what happened, and now, we realize that this was probably not the most missionary like thing to do, was we stayed pretty. Long after the sisters left for home Elder Mattina and I where still going full bore. He on the Pita for everyone that would come the next day, and me on my cross stitch assignment. Then the time came that Elder Mattina finished all of the pita bread and we left for home at 3:00 am. At this point I had a decision to make. My cross stitch was still too far from being completed to do it in the morning. So I settled down for a nice long cross stitch session. The whole time I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish it in time for the party and for getting ready. But I kept going despite the pain in my arms, the sleepiness in my eyes and the growling in my belly. This was one of the craziest experiences I have had in my life. Looking back on it I saw a lot of miracles of God taking pity on me, a little apostatizing missionary (not really). It was good and evil warring around me in my head. I was probably mostly delusional because of lack of sleep and food but it was a very interesting experience. Then what happened was I was on my final stretch but still a ways off and the time was ticking on on my clock, but I was either determined or just plain stubborn. Elder Mattina was cheering me on and getting things ready so that as soon as I finished I could immediately hop in the shower and get ready as fast as possible and shoot out the door. The time was getting closer and closer and I was having a panic attack. I was on my way but my thread wouldn't stop knotting up which cost me those precious seconds. But then it happened. I finished it at 2:25 pm and then got ready faster than lightning and was out the door.
We got there even a few minutes early and had a great time at the party. We had our Branch president, president Kokorev give a spiritual thought on the history of the church in Israel and then a musical number by us Elders and president Kokorev. Then the sisters led us as we learned some Jewish dances and songs and then we played a game called "Three Sticks." It was fun and everyone enjoyed it. But the whole time I was just glad that I didn't have to do anymore embroidery work. After the game we all piled in and ate the delicious Israeli food that we all prepared. We had Pita bread, Fallafel, Humus, Salad, and some coconut covered dates that was all done by us missionaries. It was all super good and everyone was super impressed, especially with what Elder Mattina did. But the thing was, none of the people who came knew how to eat fellafel with pita and humus so we had to show them after they already started. After that it was all over and we cleaned up and went home. I went straight to bed as soon as I ate something. I had stayed up for 36 hours and 30 of them were consumed solely by cross stitching. 
So that is the story that I ran a timed marathon of cross stitching and became apostate. The End. Ha ha. 

Other than that, We had an awesome day at church and even had Elder Podvodov of the area seventy visit and speak after I spoke. Oh yeah. So this transfer was a five week transfer because of the missionaries who are going home a little bit early to get to school so we got our transfer calls. So to our surprise and despite what President Kumferman told us, someone from our District is leaving. It's me. I guess President Kumferman found out about my midnight project. But I will be heading up to Kiev again, but this time I will become one of the Office Elders who serve in the Mission Office. So in our mission we have a set of missionaries who are assigned to do all of the computer work besides the finances for the mission as well as lots of other little responsibilities. That's me now. And what is funny is that the Elder I am replacing is coming down and taking my place here in Cherkassy. He's British so everything's fine. And also on Sunday we finally got to meet with Vanya who we have been trying to meet with for forever. The lesson was a little bit all over the place but it was still very good. He has lots of questions and lots of desire. Oh yeah. My companion will be Elder Glade. 

That's it for this week folks!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Monday, August 21, 2017

We're going Jewish


   It felt like we were super busy but I honestly don't have a ton to report on. So this email might be a shorter one. 
   This last week we got a call from the Sisters here in Cherkassy asking if we would go with them down to a place called Smela outside of Cherkassy. After a long bus ride, and a super drunk guy dropping his alcoholic beverage that emptied all over the floor of the marshrutka and my pants, we got to Smela. There we went with the Sisters to visit a less-active and then we realized why we were brought along. Our less-active friend is a patient in a mental hospital. Now if you can imagine in your mind an old scary looking mental hospital from the Soviet Union, with crazy looking barred rooms inside, you would have imagined that hospital we went to. Luckily right before we went in we got a call from someone that decided to talk for a long time. So while the sisters went in to talk to the less-active in the crazy soviet hospital, we got a new potential investigator. We eventually did go in but it wasn't for very long at all. Good thing we have good, brave sisters here.
   We have coming up on this Saturday, our Branch Jewish cultural night. it is going to be so much fun! We have been working like crazy on top of our regular missionary activities to prepare for this event. We are going to have games and songs and even food. Sister Slight lived in Israel and actually finished school there before going on a mission. So we have so good sources to make this Jewish night as pumpin' as it can get. 
   We were planning on going down to a place called Znaminka this week to meet with some less-actives and some potentials investigators, but that got vetoed due to the fact that we have our interviews with president Kumferman this week. So we'll see what happens with that.

   Das it. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

ps - Today as part of our assignment from our mission president, in our weekly email we were to choose our favorite quote from President Monson to celebrate his birthday. The one I chose was one that I have liked for quite a while. "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Zone conference, and church with the Kumfermans and friends.


This week we went up to Kiev and stayed overnight with the Elders in Pechersky, my first area in Ukraine. It wasn't the apartment I lived in but it was fun getting taught the Bible by a slightly crazy babushka. The next day we had an amazing Zone Conference. President Kumferman knows his stuff. It was one of the most mind blowing Zone Conferences I have been to. After that we went immediately on an exchange with the Zone Leaders since my companion is the District leader here. And guess where we stayed over night? That's right my first apartment here in Ukraine. It has been a while since I have been there and it was really weird going back and staying the night there. After we had one of the shortest exchanges of my mission, we went and got some quick food at the Kosher food truck by the synagogue that Elder Carr and I would like to go to. There we met these Jewish guys from New York one of which looked like the Jewish/Gangster harry Potter. The reason why we had to end our exchange early was so we could get back to Cherkassy in time to do English Practice. So we get on our bus and head down. One interesting thing about serving in Cherkassy is that the only way to get into Cherkassy is on a bridge that goes over the Dniper. And the said bridge is the only one and is currently under construction and is only open two times a day. One in the early morning and once for about two hours during the day. So you might see the problems we run into sometimes. So we head down on our bus but right as we are about to approach the bridge the driver tells us that it is closed and that we will have to take a detour that will add another hour and a half to our trip. So we didn't make it to English Practice that time but we did get there barely in time to do an awesome spiritual thought. Fun.
My companion was sick for a little bit this week so that compounded with everything in Kiev meant that we didn't get to do a whole lot of work this week. 
Sunday was awesome. President, Sister and Maggie Kumferman came down as well as Elder and Sister Bingham and Kolya. That also happened to be the week I was conducting sacrament meeting for the first time. President Kumferman talked for a bit and not only introduced himself but also went into some deep stuff about the Savior's Atonement. That is a wise man that President Kumferman. After all of our meetings we had a short lesson with our investigator Andrey with President Kumferman. I think it went very well. President Kumferman told us afterwards "You get that man baptized. He is going to be a strong member here." 
Coming up in two weeks our Branch will be putting on a Jewish/Israel cultural night. We have been planning up a storm and it is going to be awesome. 
That's about it for this week. Love you all and I want you to know that this Gospel is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and this Church is his Church. There is no other greater work than this work. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

We were waiting for the Elders to get to their apartment and found found some graffiti that our recent convert probably would have liked. And also the Temple.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our Branch president was a bartender on TV.


 Yeah so this week was apparently the hottest week in Ukrainian history.  
 I recently got some new shoe polish because the stuff I came out with finally ran out. While I was polishing my shoes I noticed that it had a very strong smell. But it polished fine. But when I put them on and started out on the streets my feet started to get pretty warm. By the time we got half way to the church building my feet where burning! So we got there and I had to take my shoes off. My feet didn't stop burning for a while after that. We got home after that and I had a little pity party in the bath tube sitting on my stool trying to get the videos to work on the little player we have to learn more Russian Sign Language. 
On Friday we decided to spend the day outside and it just so happened to be the hottest of all of the days. We went down to one of Cherkassy's many squares and with chalk drew English practises advertisements. I have never had my shirt get so wet without putting in the washing machine as it did that day from sweating. It was pretty awesome though, lots of people were interested even while we were drawing them. 
 On Saturday we headed out to a village outside of Cherkassy to help on of our members repair his roof. We got there and we had others there as well to help. They started working on putting more boards on the roof and securing them. We went with Brother Yuri to buy some more supplies while they were working on securing the boards. We grabbed our little cart and headed off. We went to the hardware store and bought lots of nails and two big heavy rolls of tar shingle stuff to put over the boards on his roof. We paid and loaded up the cart and waited at the bus stop for the marshrutka to takes us back to the house. We waited for an hour and a half and when it finally came we were so relieved. We muscled the cart up onto the marshrutka but the driver got made and yelled at us to throw it off. So we got off and started on foot back home dragging the load behind us. Eventually the roads got too bad and one of the wheals broke on our little cart. So Elder Mattina and I each grabbed one of the heavy rolls and swung them onto our shoulders and started off. By the time we got back we our shoulders were so sore from the two kilometer journey. But we got it done and everything is great. The next day however wasn't too fun for us. 
 Church was awesome and we had awesome testimonies born. Our investigators came and they had great time. Our Branch President is so awesome. He is not only super funny and talented but also understands his calling and fulfills it. He served his mission is Saint Petersberg and is n actor and a musician and lots of other cool stuff. 
 Anyway. Cherkassy is great and so is Elder Mattina. 

Старейшина Класон /Elder Clawson