Monday, January 22, 2018

Elder Roylance can get really excited about things


This week was somewhat of an eventful one. 
First off we got a new prophet. Or more correctly a new president of the church. If any of you watched the special message that President Nelson gave then you might have noticed President Erying looking a little like he didn't know where he was or what was going on the whole time. And if you watched the press conference afterwards than you would have noticed even more President Erying. Besides all of that it was all pretty good though. 
We had lots of new people come to English practice which was fun. Especially the mom with her three girls that tool everything super seriously like they were being graded on their answers. 
We also had Zone Conference this week and it was kind of strange not being combined with the other Kiev zone. Because it seems like we were combined for the last three Zone Conferences. It was wonderful though despite the absence of Kiev East. We took almost the whole time about the Book of Mormon. And if you remember President Kumferman was a professor at BYUI teaching Russian and the Book of Mormon so he knows a little bit about this subject. 
Sister Mitchell who previously served here in the office before the Andruses came has breast cancer and is undergoing radiation therapy and so President Kumferman has asked that the Office Elders (Elder Roylance and I) make a special video for her from all of us missionaries here in the Ukraine Kiev mission. So during our Zone Conferences this transfer we are filming each companionship as they express their gratitude to Sister Mitchell and any other message from them and then compile it into a special video for her. 
The Zone Leaders here our District have been working with a man named Nikolay who is a self-referral and has been meeting with them for a bit. On Saturday he got baptized and got confirmed a member and received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday yesterday. He is a pretty good guy and looks like an LDS member more and more every time I see him.
Every morning starting sometime in November we get a text from President Kumferman with a short quote or scripture and an encouragement to do better in the one field that day. On Sunday morning we got it at the usual time when Elder Roylance is in the shower but that day's was a very different text than we had before seen. It was a somewhat long text in short explaining that there was some big important news that is going to affect missionary work here and that we should sometime that day get to a computer and read that letter from him. As soon as my companion read it he was almost shaking with excitement to find out what it was all about. "Maybe we're getting smartphones!" "Or maybe we are changing to Ukrainian!" I had to very carefully negotiate in order to at least get a half and hour of personal study in before we left. And then after that I have never seen him so anxious and excited to get to the church. Not even if we were late on a lesson would he walk that fast. 
We got to the church and according to my suspicions the sister were already there at our computer and had just finished reading the letter. We could tell their excitement as well due to their shouts and excited sounds. 
So as of July 1st this year (2018) as part of the Simplify and Reduce movement act thing 46 missions are being dissolved which included the Ukraine L'viv mission. Our mission will be loosing the Odessa District gaining as apart of our mission the L'viv District and all of the missionaries apart of that mission. We don't know a ton of details so far but we do know that it is probably going to be pretty stressful for the Kumfermans and for the Andruses. I love it here in Ukraine but I am honestly super glad that I am leaving before then because I really would not like trying to speak in Ukrainian. But if for some reason that was what needed to happen then I would do it with a joyful heart. 
This week we also had a birthday in our District. Sister Archibald turned 21 and the Andruses were so kind and threw a waffle breakfast thing for us for her on Monday last. 
So it was pretty eventful and to add on to the excitement of Elder Roylance we did another Escape Room today with the elders in Pechersky.
I am so very grateful for the Book of Mormon and the power that is contained in that book. There is a reason why we have it and we there has been so much emphasis on reading her.
I hope that everyone that reads these has a good week and even those sorry souls who don't will too. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

The "Coldest" Winter in 100 years!


So we had transfers. And I am still here some how. I don't know why I am being kept here. It is definitely anything I have done. But the awesome thing is I get another transfer with Elder Roylance! 
We had some new missionaries come in and I even know one of them! Elder Ellis went to my tiny school in South Jordan and now is here in the same mission with me! But he was immediately exiled down to Odessa probably to never return. 
We have been trying to work with a certain family in this ward here where the mom is pretty active and is a translator for the church and has a husband and little kid. The husband however is not a member but is still pretty awesome. We had helped them carry some big heavy blocks from the basement to the top of the apartment building but had not so far had a lesson of any kind with them. But last night we were able to after he got home from work! It was pretty great despite how short it had to be because it was already around 8:15 pm when we got there. Their little kid is really funny because he was always trying to show off for us. His mom speaks to him in Ukrainian and in English while his dad speaks to him in Russian so he is already basically multilingual. She told us about how today (yesterday) her little kid was trying to explain something to her by saying "Isus! Isus!" (Jesus! Jesus!) but she didn't understand what he was trying to say and then he just yelled out Jesus! So he already understands that these two words mean the same thing. Pretty good for only 2 years old!
So all of the babushky were saying in the Fall that this winter was going to be the coldest winter in 100 years. Hah! What a joke! other than that one snowy week it has been so clear that I can see Odessa from here! And it has been so warm that even the old babushky are only going in two coats.  But it actually has been pretty cold the bast couple of days. . . 
Elder Lundquist had an idea which was prompted by a previous discourse between members in our district to make us more unified. So now we all have on our planners our own Power Rangers. I was going to be the blue one but then we realized that it was a girl. So yeah.
The Scripture on each of our planners reads: "And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them. . . Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them." - Alma 8:31
We did another escape room today. Perhaps you are wondering if we doing anything else except escape rooms and I would say maybe. 
Elder Roylance is a pretty cool guy. He teaches we so much with all of his wisdom. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson


Monday, January 8, 2018

So many holidays


Merry Second Christmas Everyone!
So yeah. Sunday was Orthodox Christmas but of course wasn't as big as New Years.
Our friend Juan came to church! And stayed for all three hours! We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and enthusiastically said "I'm gonna read this!". And after that he asked us to sign it for him. Elder Roylance and I have been joking that our only baptism while on our mission here in Ukraine is going to be a guy from South America. There is that joke that every time some knocks on a door here or street contacts then someone in Mexico gets baptized. But they also every once in a while through us a bone and send someone from over there here to us. 
Sunday was pretty interesting because we got to go to all three hours of International Branch which I have never done before. We went into Sunday school and sat down with Juan and he pulled out his Passport and leaned forward and said to the person in front of him "Hey, I am one of you!". The person he said it to was President Roth who is the Temple President from Salisbury Austria. He leaned back and said in his very German accent "Actually I am from Austria". We thought that was pretty funny. 
Also on Sunday we with the Kumfermans and a whole bunch of other missionaries went to the Center of Kiev to Sofiivska Square and sand a whole bunch of songs. It was pretty darn cool. There was also a ton of people there. 
We are in a bit of a hurry so that is pretty much it. 
See you next week after Old New Years!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

С Новым Годом! Happy New Years!


Well Happy New Years everyone! 
New Years is the biggest of all of the holidays here in Ukraine but I still am American and still think is kind of "Eh". But if for me this was the day that Santa Claus comes like for all of the little kids here then perhaps I would be a little more excited about it. So it is 2018 now I guess. Elder Roylance and I celebrated last night by playing some games of Rummy and drinking some Kool-aid that my family sent me for Christmas. After drinking 3 sips of it though I realized how little if American food I can take despite how much we miss it. 
We will see if we can get any P-Day stuff done at all today with nothing in the whole country working 
We had a good week where we went caroling and English Practices and helping with a Primary party/play and the other usual stuff. 
Sunday was fun. Last Sunday was Christmas Eve and the Stake Presidency decided that would be the day that they would have only one hour of church despite the next week being the bigger holiday. So yesterday in order to have the members not get home at around five as usually happens we had another combined International Branch and Borschagovsky ward. Not just during Sacrament meeting but all of church. 
Another thing. On Thursday we got into the office and Elder Andrus told us that there was a pretty big flood in the ward building. We checked it out and found a pretty serious problem. In the front foyer there was a few big holes in the ceiling and water trickling down onto the floor where lay a whole bunch of what looked like pieces of wet cardboard but were upon further investigation pieces of drop ceiling. We called the FM groups guy on the temple site and before we knew it they had everything cleaned up and looked like nothing ever happened. 
 There was a Chinese guy who brought a guy to church who lives in Kiev right now but is from New York and is Venezuelan. His name is Juan. He is a cool guy and wants to come more often to church and to other activities. We are glad that South America sent some of their success over to us. 
I am really glad to be here and to be in the middle of this great and marvelous work that the Lord God is performing. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

This back when it was winter.

С Рождестом! Merry Christmas!


It is Christmas day everyone. And yesterday was Christmas Eve. We had somewhat of a busy week this week. 
Saturday there was a big Christmas Concert like last year where tons of people came to watch choirs sing and musicians play and have a really great time all together. And like last year the Mayor of the Kiev Oblast (kind of like a state) who spoke in the beginning and talked about the friendship they have with our church and how he hopes that it will continue on. I took a ton of pictures some of which I will include. The next day was Christmas Eve and we had the Borschagovsky ward combined with the International branch and where we after taking the sacrament enjoyed the Christmas program that the International branch had prepared. We had earlier in the week a meeting with our Bishop in the Borschagovsky ward and he mentioned how things were going to work on Sunday and there were some questions on if we should try to translate the whole program or not for the many non-English-speaking members but he just said that they don't need to and that they can just enjoy it. But when it came time one of our beloved members named Sister Tatyana, the tiniest little old lady you will ever see who was sitting behind me asked we to translate for her when they started the program. The only problem was in that when there were speaking parts they were almost exclusively reading from eh scriptures. Trying to translate English scriptures into Russian scriptures without knowing which scripture it is is pretty difficult. But then I found out that there was a program that had all of the scriptures they were ready on them and used that and flipped to them as quickly as I could and read them to sweet little Sister Tantyana but it happened more than a few times that they didn't for one reason or another read the scripture that was listed to be next and so that was fun. Regardless everything was beautiful and we all enjoyed it whether or not we understood it. 
After that we went to Elder and Sister Andrus' apartment which is very close to ours and with the other missionaries in our district as well as the Kumfermans and Elder and Sister Bingham had hot chocolate and cinnamon roles that Sister Andrus made for us. We noticed that the cinnamon roles had a little of a bite to them and then Sister Andrus explained that when she bought the ingredients that she didn't realize until she used them that here they have not only regular cinnamon but also cinnamon with pepper in it. I enjoyed it. 
After that we went out side and stood in front of the fountain that is right outside their apartment and sang all together lots of hymns and Christmas songs that attracted quite a few people. 
After we had already had tons of fun that day we went over top the Kumferman's home where they had invited us to spend Christmas Eve with them and the Nigerians here. It was pretty awesome. We talked a lot and sang every Christmas hymn there is and shared different Christmas traditions. It really made me come to appreciate the traditions I have in my family and also this special time of year we have. I am so very thankful that I am here right now and trying to do the Lord's work and conform to his will. I am thankful for the Redeemer of the world that was born on the earth and whose berth we celebrate every year with singing and serving and all kinds of good things. Before my time here in the mission field I really did not like singing at all but more and more as time goes on I have really come to love it. And especially last night with the Kumfermans and Nigerians and other missionaries singing hymns I felt a very special spirit there among us and can't help but think of how much my Heavenly Father loves me and how precious a gift was given 2017 years ago. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Orphan rave and pleasant Christmas zone conference


"I am kind of sick of there not being any snow" said I. But then everything changed when the alarm went off this morning. Man, as I wrote that sentence I could think of finishing it as "when the fire nation attacked. . . " I guess something things never fade away. . .
This P-day we were planning on going and playing something called "gaterball" with some of the other missionaries in Kiev but then we looked out side this morning and decided against it. 
We had the elders from Cherkassy stay overnight with us because today is when we have nine missionaries leave. Elder Mattina is one of those who is leaving and we got to spend last night with him. I found out that not only did he like me enough to want to spend his practically last night in Ukraine with me but that he also wanted me to hem his new suit slacks that he just bought.  I guess somethings never change.
On Saturday we had a few special things that went on. We had our special Combined Kiev Christmas Zone Conference that was amazing. President Kumferman as part of the teaching part of Zone Conference told the Christmas story in all little bit of a different way. We looked at a variety of different characters in the scriptures such as the shepherds, the wise men, Simmeon, Anna, Herod, and others and asked if they knew about Christ before his birth or not and how they came to know it. It was a very interesting topic to discuss and then we started looking at other people such as the Nephites in 3rd Nephi as well as some others and asked the same questions. After having our "Christmas Lunch" we went back in and started the second portion by hearing from the missionaries who are leaving and then had each district in the two Kiev zones who were there share with us their performances. It was a really awesome experience to hear everyone sing and read scriptures and tell stories all centered around the Savior and his miraculous berth. Our district sang a song that we had found called "Watching O'er the Manger"it is a fairly unknown piece but it is still very pretty. After we all sang that then we each took turns and read a story titled "Papa Panov's Special Christmas" which is a short story by Leo Tolstoy. After all of the districts went then the Kumferman's performed for us and that was pretty special for all of us missionaries. 
Right after Zone Conference we had another event that was happening in the building that we had to help with or got to help with. Elder and Sister Haldeman the humanitarian couple had organized this great big event for a local orphanage here in Kiev and had tons of people make hats for them and had all kinds of donations. So what happened from my perspective is they all came and were fed and then came into the cultural hall where we had set up a mini concert for them where we had missionaries playing guitar, drums, piano, and singing and sang lots of fun Christmas songs. And of course I was some how roped into doing all of the A/V for this thing. Then the MC person whipped out her laptop and plugged it into the projector and started playing all of these strange but weirdly awesome just dance videos and then it turned into a rave with tons of orphans. Apparently President Kumferman walked in at one point and just laughed and started filming everything. 
So yeah it was a little crazy this week. Also, we got transfers. Everyone is staying in this district except Sister Trejo is going home and Sister Archibald is coming here to serve in this area. It is going to be fun!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Here are some pictures. 



So we robbed a bank yesterday. It was pretty fun. Some guy was blackmailing us but he made a deal with us that if we stole this hard drive and grabbed the evidence that we were ever thieves. . .
If you remember the time we were time travelers it was this same game company "Under Lock". It was my companion and I and the Zone Leaders that did it and it was super fun. We had 90 minutes to grab the hard drive from the safety deposit box that we were trying to get to and grab the "evidence" and escape. We escape with a fashionable 2 minutes left. 
There is a guy in the Borschagovsky Ward named Andrey. He served his mission in the U.S. and knows English really really well and is an all round great guy. He told us how he proposed to his wife. He told us that they went on a date to one of these escape rooms that was titled "The Lord of the Rings". They went through and the goal of the room was to find the "One Ring" and escape. As you can probably imagine the "One Ring" was THE ring. Pretty creative if you ask me. 
This week was the most busy and stressful week I have had in the office so far. President Kumferman gave me a ton of assignments to complete by the end of the week before Odessa had their Christmas Zone Conference and before it gets to late before Christmas. Basically it is all too secret right now because none of the other missionaries know about it yet and I know that sometimes missionaries in this mission look at the blog my mom made that most of you are reading this on (you know how you are) and so I am not going to disclose anything until it isn't a surprise any more. And if it is a surprise still after that either you're crazy or I'm crazy. But one thing I can say is that I am becoming very antiquated with the art of Adobe programs. 
Since basically everything I did this last week was classified I apologize for not having a lot to write about. 
Elder Roylance is a cool guy. I admire how much of a desire he has to do missionary work.
President Kumferman is the most smiley person I have ever met. He also likes food the most of anyone I have met. He is just great. 
It gets cold here in Ukraine and pretty snow as well but this last week has been clear and not super cold. On Sunday it was raining but by the time we got out of church the ground was completely covered with that messy white stuff and was basically a blizzard going on outside. It was kind of crazy. 
We haven't seen Armen from Armenia for a while and we miss him. 
The elders form Zhytomer came up and stayed with us but only after going to the Rudenko's first. 
Within the past few days we have had two tours where our Public Affairs guy conducted a pretty extensive tour with about 100 of Kiev's top university students. So that was pretty cool. 

I hope next week I'll more to write about so I don't bore you all to death if you even read these emails. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Brother somehow ended up with Elder Roylance's name tag.