Monday, June 11, 2018

Feta Cheese in Kiev

Another week in Kiev. 
This week we had our Kiev West Zone Conference. So that meant that we had interviews the day before and which means that we had to leave early Thursday morning to catch our train to Kiev.
The other elders had an exchange with the Zone Leaders this time on Wednesday to Thursday so they went up before us which meant that we rode up by ourselves. It was pretty awesome this time, we got upgraded to first class and it was pretty comfy. And there wasn't a whole lot of people which was good for me and there were comfortable seats which was good for Elder Clifford who is for some reason always so exhausted.
Interviews were supposed to be a little quicker this time as Elder Durstchi and I aren't getting interviewed until we leave and have our exit interviews. But as you probably guessed to opposite happened. Sister Kumferman had prepared dinner for us and it was very delicious as it always is. She is very kind. 
The next day we had Zone Conference which was my last one. It was really awesome. It was centered around Preach My Gospel chapter 11 which talks about helping people make and keep commitments. I think this is particualarly important right now as we are working with Nastya. 
For lunch we had one of my favorite things in Ukraine. Salateria. It is this salad with pasta and eggs that come in a box that you shake up after you put the pesto sauce on and tear the top off to reveal the delicious Salateria salad. This time it had a LOT of feta cheese in it. I am not against feta cheese what so ever but that day I found out what it means to have too much feta cheese. 
This week President Koshelev was out of town and it being my month to conduct sacrament meeting I was left basically alone to run everything. It was all right and we had good talks in fact. 
Nastya has been super busy with school and all of her exams and didn't come to church. I am confidant that she will eventually get baptized but the question of exactly when is still unanswered.
Not much else this week. Lots of time was spent in Kiev and traveling. It has been really hot lately and everyone is freaking out because it hasn't rained in a couple of weeks whcih means their croups aren'\t doing great. 
We have a sister in our branch here who is going to England on her mission and every week after church we have been teaching her the missionary lessons in English to help her out. She is kind of freaking out but she has a lot better English than she realizes.
Until next week,

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Night time view off our balcony.

Monday, June 4, 2018



So we went up to Kiev again. And we we did go to the Temple again. Elder Durtschi found some family names and so last week when we were in Kiev with the recent converts, we did baptisms for those names and this time we did the other ordinances. That was my last time going to the Kiev, Ukraine Temple. I really love the temple. I will always remember the temple here in Ukraine. 
We had a mission conference where President Martino and Elder Callister came and taught us. 
We used our P-day time one Friday to go to the temple and after that we had some time to sight-see in Kiev. We went and saw lots of cool things and we all bought some vyshivankas (traditional Ukrainian clothes). 
Today we decided to take a trip a little outside of Vinnitsya and go see "Wehrwolf". During World War II it was Hitler's most eastern headquarters and at then end of the war they blew up the compound and all of the bunkers. Now there is a museum where you can go see the compound and all of the big pieces of concrete with rebar everywhere. We were told by some people we asked about it that it wasn't that great, but we went and it was super cool. For someone who doesn't like history it may be boring but for all of us it was awesome. Before the place opened, we walked around in the fields nearby and I made a flower crown and we gave it to the lady at the compound. She really liked it. 
We had an exchange with the other elders this week and while on the exchange Elder Clifford and Ulrich taught Nastya the Word of Wisdom. The lesson went well and it seems we don't have any problems in that area. The only thing that we are worried about is that Natsya hasn't had time at all, due to trying to finish school, to come to church. She is really great but needs to come to church. 
Thank you for your prayers and support. Also, while at Hitler's bunker at the site of his personal bunker I found a small piece of concrete and took it. Now I have a piece of Hitler's most eastern headquarters and a piece of the Kiev temple.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

There was a huge Soccer game in Kiev between Real Madrid and Liverpool. That is why our train was so late.


I won't bore you with the lame stuff that happened at the beginning of the week. Let me just skip to the cool stuff.
Friday even we had planned to roast smores with our recent converts and other investigators. The other elders found a good spot in the forest by their apartment and so we went with Katya, Nastya, Ira, Sasha (all recent converts), Viola (another member), Nastya Volos (our investigator), Vova (Sasha's friend) and Metco (a guy who comes to English Practice and Youth Night religiously). We had a great time and had a good spirituyal thought besides all of the tasty ukrainian smores.
Early Saturday morning we got up and got on a train with Katya, Nastya and Ira to go to Kiev to the Temple. It was so great. We got there in time to stay for a little bit of English Practice in Borschagovsky where Sister Sutton is serving. Sister Sutton previously served in Vinnistya and was the missionary who started teaching Ira. They were all supoer excited to see each other.
We did baptisms for the dead and it was a very wonderful experience. 
After that it was around 3:00 - 3:30 pm and had a lot of time left before our train. A lot of time. Our train was for theat night at 11:45 pm and so we had some time. We walked so, so much that day around Kiev. That was some of the most walking I have ever done in my life. We were all so dead tired by the end. Some of us got a little bit of sleep on the train. We got back to Vinnitsya at around 3:00 am and had to take a taxi which is a pretty rare occasion. And we were lucky to find one that could fit seven poeple. I didn't sleep very well at all and then we had to get up for my before church meetings with the Branch Presidency. Yeah we were pretty tired. 
President Kumferman with Sister Kumferman and Maggie came to our branch and spoke. It was really great to see them all as well as Zhenya the mission driver and his awesome and hilarious wife, Sveta. Nastya Volos, our investigator was unable to come to Sacrament meeting due to her helping her nine year old brother back for his chess turnement and also due to the fact that her mom took her keys with her and she had to wait for her to get back before she could leave. But she did come in time for Sunday School which was lead by Viola and Natasha who are preparing for missions. We talked about why scripture study is important and more on how we can improve our studies. After we had our monthy branch lunch which President Kumferman was very please to find out about. After that we grabbed Nastya, Viola and Natasha and had a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so good. Natsya has such a good understanding of gospel principles and we can tell that she is really growing. She had already agreed to be baptized but wants to read the Book of Mormon and receive her witness but on Sunday she agreed to the goal of being baptized on the 24th of June. She is so great we are confident that everything will work out. Tonight we are taking her over to the Bevsyuk family for a family home evening and things should be great.
We took lots of pictures this week. More correctly, Elder Clifford took lots of pitcures this week.
But he forgot his camera and since mine is beasically a toy camera I don't have pictures this week but next week there should be. 
This week we have a mission wide conference where Elder Calister and president Martino are coming and so we are going to Kiev again. In preperation we have been asked to reread certain talks by Elder Calister and all of them are just awesome and testify so boldy of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the calling of the Prophet Josheph Smith. If I wasn't already convinced before all of those talks I am now thouroughly convinced of the thruthfulness of this all. 
Please make the Book of Mormont the "corner stone" of your testimony as it has been made mine.
Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Rain, More Rain, and Europe Day


Rain. Rain all week long. . . It was really nice though.
It was also a lot cooler. As in tempurature.
We live right in center so if there is anything going on, parades, concerts, demonstrations, they all take place basically right outside of our apartment. This week there were quite a few things goinon. There was on Friday "Vinsalofest" (Vinnitsya Salo Festival (Salo = lard) ). On Satruday there was Europe day. That was crazy and radiculously loud. What is funny is Ukraine is the only country that celebrates Europe day that is outside of the Europian Union. And Vinnitsya is the only city in Ukraine that celebrates it with concerts and festivals. I think that is pretty humorous. There was security everywhere because the mayor came and so many concerts. The concerts went so late that we had a pretty rough time trying to sleep. The other elders with with us that night as well because their water wasn't working and we had church the next day. On Sunday there were lots of concerts going on. I am not sure if it was just an extention of Europe day or for something else but it was pretty loud. And there was some kind of military demonstration going on this morning so we couldn't leave for a little bit. Fun stuff.
Nastya and Inna have been pretty busy lately sop we haven't seen them very much except for Nastya who came on Saturday but have to leave pretty quick after that. 
I got a hair cut today and had the lday put my part on the other side so my hair line can grow back on the other side that one crazy lady started shaving into that one time. 
There is a lday named Natasha who runs a yarn/embroidery stand at a mall near us. We stopped by to see what she had a couple of weeks ago and decided to come back and buy some things from her. The next time we stopped by her stand she was talking to us and asking us all kinds of questions. She is very interested in our religion and has studied with just about evry religion except ours. We offerd to stop by again and bring some things for her to read and she galdly agreed. The next time we brought some pamphlets and brochures and a copy of the Book of Mormon. SHe was preety happy but when she saw the Book of Mormon she gasped and said "This is what I have been looking for!" Apparently her brother during the time of the Soviet Union was trying to get a copy of the Book of Mormon but died before he could and ever since then she has been trying to find the book that her brother was so interested in. She is so excited to read it. We like her and her advice on colors for different cross stitch projects and she likes us too (due to some of the qustions that she started asking we think that she might try to sell her daughter off to one of us).
There is a young mother of three adorable little girls that comes to our begginer English practice group, and on Saturday one of the girls gave each of us missionaries, ecxcept for Elder Ulrich for some reason, one of those rubber band braclets. 
Not much really happened other than that.
Untiil next week.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Missionary Work


There were a couple of holidays this week. May 9th - Victory Day. And May 13th- Mother's Day. The first one is a pretty big holiday for counrties like Russian and some of those that were part of the U.S.S.R. like Ukraine. The latter is the one that I was more interested in though because as you know we get a chance to Skype home twice a year. Once at Christmas time and once on Mother's day. It was good to see my family and talk with them for a little bit. It was also fun to see the families of my companion and the other elders as well. 
The apartment that we live in is right in the center of the city and so if there is ever a parade, concert, or any type of event where more that one person is involved it is right outside of our apartment. Normally there is a pretty constant amount of noise that goes on everyday around our apartment but on Wednesday the 9th it got a lot more crazy. It wasn't as ridiculous it can get during New Years but it was pretty crazy. 
Last week the interenet people came and "fixed" the interenet. I am not quite sure what they actually did but I know that it invloved drilling and wire. All I know that after that the internet still didn't work. We later found out that they tried to install dial-up internet. I am nowt sure why but they did. There were some calls made by our Branch Presient after we found that out and then the agreement was made that next weelk (this week) another company would come and install fiber optics. This week we didn't see one worker at all around out branhc building and the interenet was still in the same state as ever, not. But then all of the sudden on Friday it started working. It isn't exactly what I would imagine fiber optics to do but I am just glad that it works now so we can do tithing and also talk to our families. 
On Saturday there was a branch "Helping Hands" service project where the city gave us a teritory by the Bug River to clean up. We all put on the fancy Helping Hands vest things and grabbed some gloves and garbage bags and went to work. There was a surprizing amount of trash around and it was kind of deceiving at first. I didn't see it as I was at the other ond of the teritoy but one of the elders and some other members got interviewed by a reporter who showed up asking what we were doing and why.
After that we had the closest thing you can gfet to in Ukraine to a Ward BBQ. We had President Koshelev making "shashlik" (grilled meat) and had other food out and played games and ate. It was pretty fun, but not only that but we had a few non-members come and help with the service and that came to the "Picnic" (that is what they called it) and had fun with us.
Last week we were looking around and found this awesome place to buy suplize for embroidering. We looked around there a bit and decided that we were going to come back this week. During the week I unknowingly inspired Elder Ulrich to take up cross stitching. Today we two went and picked out for him so cloth and needles and embroidery floss (string for you heathens). The lady running the place was very interested in us and long stroy short she is anxious for us to come back to not only perhaps perchase more but to bring materials for her to read and learn more about our church. Missionary work in action.
Last week was practically summer and it was getting kind of afraid fopr Elder Clifford who is going to be here in Ukraine all summer. I was afraid that summer was going to get way to hot than is bareable. Summer here is already really hot but this "Spring" weather is already getting up there. I think it almost got up to 30 degrees C the week before last. This week though was a lot nicer. It has even for the past few days been showering which has been very enjoyable except for when you forget top close the window in your apartment and a you come home to water all over your rug. 
Things are going great. Nastya Volos our investigator has agreed to be baptised but not on a specific date yet. She is really great and I can see her being a good addition to our Branch here in Vinnitysa. There are lots of other great people we are trying to work with as well. The other elders are working with a young man named Vova who is really awesome too. 
Oh, we also got transfers this week. All four of us, Elder Me, Elder Clifford, Elder Ulrich an Elder Durtschi are all staying and this is mine and Elder Durtschi's last transfer and Elder Ulrich's second to last. Things are great and there is no where else I would rather be than here right now. 
I appreciate all of your support!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

The Legend of the Chupacabra


Let me tell you the legend of the Chupacabra.
Long ago in land called Vinnitsya there were two elders who wanted to make their English practice more interesting. They realized that it was the fifth of May which translates into Spanish as "Cinco de Mayo" These two elders had at one point made up a legend that centuries ago in old Mexico there was a man who noticed that his sheep and goats were going mission and he didn't know why but the village elder came and asked the man, (of course in a Mexican accent) "Do you know why your sheep and goats are going missing?" the man replied "No". "It is because of the Chupacabra!". This made up legend also tells how one can catch the Chupacabra. However the most important piece of information is that the Chupacabra will only be able to caught on Cinco de Mayo. So these two elders decided to take their beginner English group on an adventure. A hunt for the Chupacabra. They first had to go to the Relief Society room and learn how to be quiet by playing the telephone game. Then into the kitchen to learn what the Chupacabra eats as well as other animals.Then after searching around in the kitchen they find a small toy goat that they tie a string around to make a lure for the Chupacabra. Then into the young women's room for target practice with the two small Nerf guns that Elder Clifford found at Silpo for half off and couldn't pass up. They first had to do a word search to find the words they needed to practice shooting. Then after a little practice they embarked to find the lair of the Chupacabra. They found that the Primary room was where the Chupacabra had made its lair. They gave some poor unfortunate soul the duty of throwing out the lure three times. They then entered the lair to see if the Chupecabra was out. What they saw was a crudely drawn picture that Elder Durtschi did of the Chupecabra. They had found him! The only way to kill him was to duck behind the previously tipped over table at a safe distance from the beast and shoot the toilet paper rolls that these elders for some reason had been saving. Probably to make a didgeridoo at some point. When they started to knock over the toilet paper rolls they realized that it was not only making the chupecabra weaker but that every toilet paper roll had a delicous Roshen truffle inside which they all enjoyed happily ever after. The end
So as you just read, we had a fun English Practice on Saturday. Unfortunately Wednesday's wasn't as involved.
We had a pretty great week. We had some time to contact before our lesson with Inna before Wednesday's English practice so we started wandering around and talking with people. I felt to go in a little bit of a random direction but we went and then we happened to run into Inna with whom we were going to meet with in a few hours. She was on her way to meet with a friend and so we walked and talked with her until she met with her friend. On the lesson Inna brought that friend and we had a nice little lesson. 
On Friday we went into the "Tsentralny Park" and set up a white board on which Natsya our recent convert wrote a question. THe question was "Что вам нравится в нашем мире?" (What do you like in our world?). Then we had a people who wlaked by frab a sticky note and write their answer and stick it to the board. It was pretty awesome. There was us four missionaries, Katya and Natsya our recent convert girls and Natysa Interpretper (who we found out her last names is "Волос" which means hair). So we had one companionship stay at the board and the other go out and hand out English cards. When I went out and handed out cards we grabbed Nastya Hair (I am going to call her that now) and talked with people. From that we got quite a few good potential investigators. 
Unfortunatly we were not able to have a lesson with Nastya Hair this week and didn't see her or Inna at church for various reasons. We had a good Sunday and Fast Day. 
I have been trying to use up my yarn before I leave so I don't have to take it with me so I have been working on various projects. One of my latest was a tam (a burett looking hat for women). 
There is in our little branch a very interesting lady. She is in charge of the building and cleaning. She is a type "3" for those of you who know what that means. For those of you who don't just ask my mother what it means. This lady can come off as very bossy and high paced. SHe has lately getting all worked up because we don't knwo all of the streets and land marks in Vinnitsya and has been scolding us a lot. So I decided to give her that tam that I made and she loved it.  
So yeah. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

p.s. By the way, last week when the power kept going out I barley sent the email before the power went out again.

Power Outage


The power went out for an hour here in the Internet Cafe so I don't really have a ton of time. Well great. And this week we had so many things happen. So I guess if you are really itching to know you can just ask me in person in a couple of months. 
The weather has been stunning and the people are really happy here in Vinnitsya. 
The past several days have been filled to the brim with countless miracles that have come in all shapes and sizes. 
We got to meet with Dasha a little bit and found out that she is trying to get her driver's licence and go to Germany. 
On Thursday we had youth night and lots of people came. There so many people named Nastya that come to activities now. So we have to add another name after Nastya to distinguish them. For example Nastya Recent Convert, or Nastya Interpreter. But anyways Natsya Interpreter (she wants to become an interpreter) who we haven't seen for a while came for her first time to youth night and really enjoyed it. 
It has been getting worse and worse with people leaving after English Practice before the spiritual thought so we have had to think of different ways to get the to read, take or do something. We decided this last time on Saturday to right after the story instead of a spiritual thought hand out to everyone a balloon that says "I love my family" and a Plan of salvation pamphlet. This was pretty effective. Inna who is good friends with Nastya Recent Convert and has come to almost every single activity for a month seemed fairly interested and so did Nastya Interpreter. I think that everyone took a pamphlet that came to English. 
At the beginning of this transfer Elder Clifford and I set a goal to have a serious baptismal date with someone and next transfer have a baptism. We have really felt inspired to set this goal and have felt that Inna will expect the invitation to meet. So after English Practice we talk a little and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and set up a time to meet. That night we called and invited people to church. That next day at church Nastya Interpreter came and the only reason Inna didn't come was because she was helping her grandma. Nastya really really liked church and Katya and Nastya Recent Converts and Elder Clifford told her all about the Book of Mormon and got her even more interested. During the second hour we had a short lesson with her where we mostly bore testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon and how we came to know that it was true and answered a couple of questions that she had. We set up a time with her to meet and talk more and she is now our new investigator. She is so normal which is a huge blessing and is so sensitive to spiritual things which I can tell. It may be that the Lord directed us to set that goal but had another person to help at the same time. And what is awesome is that she is going over for a family home evening with one of the families in the branch tonight. 
Great, another black out. Even less time. I will count my self lucky to get this email sent off.
We saw so many miracles and I feel like one of the Book of Mormon engravers who "can't contain a hundredth part" of the miracles that we saw this week. I have told some of the biggest but there were so many others.
We also went and helped plant potatoes out in a village this week. It was pretty fun and it went surprisingly fast. 
I am just grateful to be here and to have this chance to serve and be companions with Elder Clifford. He is really really great. 
Today we went to the "Between the Buns" restaurant again and I got a pretty evil looking dish. The peppers were not that spicy. Nothing in Ukraine can satisfy my crave for spice. But the burger was actually really really good. 
I apologize for not telling everything that happened. I have no time at all. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson