Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gen. Conf. Rockets and a Baptism plus a few Miracles.


So today I started wearing my thermals, boots and coat again. It's kind of weird because when I first came here I was wearing these things and now here I am again. 
This week was fun because we had a few events going on. On Saturday we had a ton going on. Seryozha the Zone Leader's investigator got baptized! He has changed so much from when I first met him. He is an example of how the Gospel changes lives. His baptism was a ten-o-clock which went that we had to be here at eight to start filling up the font as it takes about two hours to fill up. We got here with the Zone Leaders and we realized that the font was in desperate need of cleaning. So we vacuumed and moved it and then started filling it. The problem was that because we took the time to clean it we didn't have as much time to fill it up so when it came time to perform the actual ordinance, the water wasn't quite up to the waist like it should but more like upper-mid thigh. And due to that it was a little tough for Seryozha to bend down low enough to get all of the way under the water and had to do it again. But it worked out the second time. After that he was just glowing and had the biggest smile on his face. After the baptism we as a ward were going to watch the Saturday Morning session of General Conference. So during the time before the baptism we were setting up chairs and the big projector screen. In the room where the projector is we found that from the last event they did in this building that they had not yet taken the sound equipment back to the center Kiev ward building. At that point we got an idea. We set up the big speakers and pulled out the mixer and everything so our movie night would be even more of a movie night. And so General Conference and the movie both had good A/V (Audio/Visual). It was a happy moment for me to do that kind of stuff again and everything worked out perfectly. Between us watching General Conference and watching Meet the Mormons for our Movie night we had English Practice. So basically we didn't do anything else besides what was listed on Saturday. 
We had a miracle day on Thursday. While we were busy working in the office at three different points random people off the street walked in and wanted to learn more about the Temple and our Church and what we believe. The coolest ones were Nadezhda and her son Roman who came in and said that they tried to go into the Temple but someone told them that they couldn't go in unless they were members and had a temple recommend. She asked after that, "How does one become a member of your church?" And after that she was tearing up when I started to explain everything and show her around and when I showed her the Book of Mormon and the little video on temples that we have. They were both so awesome. And later that day there was a guy named Valeri who walked into the temple and we got a call from the front desk asking us to come over and talk with him. He wanted to stay in the lobby and talk but we explained to somewhat of the relief of the temple worker who was talking to him that we try and keep the quietness of the temple there and keep it a holy place but that we could talk in the church. We had a mini lesson with him but after that we sensed that he really wasn't super interested but still a super nice guy. On Sunday Valeri, Nadezhda and her son Roman and her other son who wasn't there on Thursday Rustam all came to church. That was a huge miracle. We couldn't stay the whole time because of other responsibilities but we had another member who is super excited to "relive his missionary days" to sit by them and become friends with them. Yeah, this week we saw lots of cool things happen. People came to church that got to watch Some of General Conference and see someone (Seryozha) get confirmed a member and receive the Holy Ghost. Members brought their non-member friends and less-active friends to the Meet the Mormons movie night and I got to mess around with expensive sound equipment. 
So a pretty successful week I might say. 
Another cool thing was during Elder Rasband's talk on Saturday he talked about this Granddaughter who was taking some kind of church tour on the east coast who realized that she was going to be in her brother's mission. They asked her brother's mission president if they could meet up but even after he said no they by chance got to see each other for a second. We were watching this with the Zone Leaders and Elder Lundquist shouts "I was on that bus!". So apparently he was on that tour with that granddaughter and then he told what he remembered form that. Then on the talk they showed a picture from that event and I realized that I had a part in this to of sorts. That missionary was my first Zone leader and then Second District leader in the field! That was crazy. 
Also, Elder Renlund showed some cool stuff at the beginning of his talk. The first rocket he showed is called the Soyuz which is one of my favorite ones. So yeah. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Seryozha's Baptism

Our set up for General Conference
This already after we cleaned up a bunch so it isn't the whole thing. And behind all of the rows of chairs we had the couches from the foyer for the old people. 
I was excited to play with all of the equipment.

General Conference . . . and basically nothing else


This week was pretty all over the place. We had some days were we practically had no time to breath because of all of the things we had to do. 
We had interviews with President Kumferman this week which were amazing like they always are. President Kumferman is so funny, he always is saying to Sister Mitchell that he doesn't need to schedule more than 20 minutes for each missionary when she asks him if he wants more time, but he just goes over on almost every single one anyway. Maybe there is some mission-president-thing that we don't get that makes us think that way. 
We were supposed to have our office staff meeting on Wednesday but that didn't work out due to President going over on his interviews. But we did eventually have it a couple of days later. 
One of the saddest things happened to us this week. We were in the office like usual on a normal Tuesday and we were finishing up somethings that were kid of urgent the next day so we had to stay a little later. The Zone Leaders in our district called and asked if we could order some pizza or something so when they came in about 45 minutes we could all eat and then go home for the night. This was a very exciting time for some of us and we leaped on this opportunity to order Domino's. And it was even Tuesday where there are really good discounts at Domino's. So we used our computer skills and order online and were attentively watching the pizza tracker they have on the Domino's website like a pot of boiling water. Perhaps it was because we were watching it but it never moved from the "Processing order" to the "In the oven". Then the Zone Leaders got a call from Domino's and they said that unfortunately they would only be able to get it to us in an hour and a half. At that point we would already have to have been home and we had to tell them to say no. After that we went home and cried ourselves to sleep. But there might be a chance tomorrow to let Domino's redeem themselves.  
Sunday was great. There were a lot of great testimonies born that were carried by the Spirit. We went to the International Branch as usual. But we had one of our recent converts from the Borshagovsky ward come and he asked me to translate for him. It was kind of weird translating for someone into Russian instead of English. It was especially hard once the very wise and seasoned members got up and started telling a story from their life and unseeing words that only an 19th century professor would have known. But other than that everything went great. Unfortunately due to the fact that we aren't in America we didn't get to watch General Conference. We have heard all about it and are super excited for next week when we can watch it. But perhaps we might try to sneak a session or two here and there. 
Fall is basically here. You can not only fell it but see it on the trees and on the ground where the trees dumped all of their leaves. This is the awkward time were it is not cold enough yet to were your normal winter coat but definitely to cold to go outside with only a shirt on. 
We got roped into yet another choir performance but this time it is the whole stake. I am fine singing but I don't like it when I get signed up left and right for things like this without asking us beforehand. And then get super mad when we try and explain that we have other plans. "Yeah just use the missionaries. I mean they don't have anything else to do." I am sorry. I really do like singing and helping them out. But I just wished that they would organize it a little bit differently. 
I feel like my emails are getting more and more boring each week and you would probably understand if you read this far. I guess I'll try and do more interesting things each week so I can report on them. But there isn't a whole lot of exciting things that go on here in the office. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Here is something interesting. Some of the pictures of the Kiev Zoo.
I found my people (the sheep and llama)

And also My companion with a snipe. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Zone Conference and Zoo


So there were two major highlights from this past week. Both of them start with a ZO. One ends with ne Conference and the other o. 
On Monday we were invited to go to the Kiev Zoo with a family in the ward for one of their kid's birthday. So that was fun. And what was even funner was the fact that the Cherkassy Elders were coming up to stay with us for Zone Conference and they just "happened" to be there as well. IT was all super fun. There wasn't a ton of people there at the Zoo which meant that we could do just about whatever we wanted to. It is somewhat of a small zoo compared to what we have in Salt Lake but it was a good one none the less. The highlight of the zoo for me was probably when I got to see the Alpacas and Sheep. It was like I was returning home. At least with their heir. I just wanted to hop into the alpaca pen and sheer all of their hair off and start spinning. 
On Tuesday we helped with the Kiev East Zone Conference and had an awesome district meeting. 
On Wednesday was our own Zone Conference, the Kiev West Zone Conference. The only thing I can say is that President Kumferman is a wise man. It was a wonderful time to have the Spirit there in abundance and be taught be a wonderful teacher. 
This last Saturday was President Kumferman's Birthday and us missionaries wanted to do something special for him. So each Zone during their Zone Conference did something special. For example our Zone had each missionary companionship find something under 15 Hrivna that remind us of President Kumferman. Elder Glade and I gave him some Grammcrackers that Sister Mitchell got from America and some milk. Because when we had our first Zone Conference with President Kumferman he told us a story of how when he was considering getting baptized his friends were trying to talk him out of it and one of the things they told him was that if he got baptized that he couldn't have grammcrackers and milk anymore. And apparently this caused some serious second thoughts for young president Kumferman as his just absolutely loves grammcrackers and milk. As well as each missionary's individual gift, all of the missionaries in the mission pitched together and bought him a nice suit case. President Packer in his last little bit before returning home bought this same suit case and was known for saying how he wished that he had bought it sooner on his mission. So we with the help of Kolya the mission secretary got the same suit case for President Kumferman. He was absolutely ecstatic when we presented it to him and took a little glory walk with it around the chapel, waving his hand and smiling like he was royalty. a day later we were talking to Maggie and Emma, President and Sister Kumferman's daughters her in Ukraine and they were telling us about the that night after we gave him the suit case and all of those other gifts. They said that he was so excited about everything and was showing them everything. One companionship gave him a potato with a face drawn on it and said that it was him as some kind of joke that went along with an other gift and his daughters said that he excitedly pulled it out an said "Hey look, it's me!" 
From Zone Conference to Saturday we were busy with the usual things but one thing that was special was when we got to do a Temple Tour. Elder Glade's neighbors in Washington had an Foreign Exchange Student live with them for a year who was from Ukraine. And for his whole mission he has been trying to set up some kind of meeting with her to not just meet up but share the Gospel. And this last week we got to do just that. She came and had invited her friend as well and we had a great time showing them around the temple, the family history center, the mission office and the church here and they seemed to be pretty interested. And just today we got a Viber (a messaging company here) message from her thanking us for the awesome tour. 
Saturday was super busy for us. We as a district planned to surprise President Kumferman on his birthday with breakfast. So the night before we got everything set up and the morning of got the food all ready. We were collaborating with Sister Kumferman to get him to the church and 10:00 and what we didn't realize was that she had told him that the Sisters needed him on a lesson that morning as a way of getting him there but she forgot to tell them that she had said that. And on Friday he had made a comment to our sisters about how he was excited for the lesson the next day. Their confusion led to his suspicion. But none the less we had a great time putting on breakfast for him. Right after that we set up for a Baptism that Pechersky was having and then immediately went in to English Practice. Then immediately after that we had a quick practice and sung for the Stake Concert that they do every month. It was a busy day but of all good things. 
We had a good and mostly calm Sabbath day with attending the International branch and the Borshagovsky ward. 
So we had a busy week. lots of things were learned and lots of things given. I just can't wait for tomorrow when we get to have interviews with President. It is always a very special experience. 
Until next week!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

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