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.

Monday, December 4, 2017

#Осиетиэтотмир / #LightTheWorld . . .again.


A busy week and another to come.

Elder Roylance is pretty much as I remember him over a year ago. 
We got some new missionaries this week and they are awesome! We have so many missionaries getting trained right now. 
It's December now. 
I don't have any time to write very much today because I have super secret office stuff that has to get done by the week end. So here are some pictures to cover up my short comings. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

The Kiev, Ukraine Temple on the day of first snow. 

Transfers, Thanksgiving, and Irrational Fears


We had a pretty good Thanksgiving this week if you were wondering. We had a very special combined Zone Conference with both the Kiev East and West zones. We got to learn so much from President and Sister Kumferman and then had a short snack and then the Zone Leaders from both zones taught and then we had our Thanksgiving dinner. We actually had it on the 23rd so it counts as real Thanksgiving dinner. Right before the closing prayer me and my companion got pulled out by Sister Bingham and she said that she needed our help. She lead us into one of the primary rooms and then we saw the reason for the interruption. There on the cute little kids table two nurses had set up their vaccination station. Now, if any of you are at least slightly informed on my relationship with pointy metal things that go into your body you will understand my discomfort. The ladies had us take a big stack of agreement forms and a list of people who had signed up to get their flu shots. A few months earlier when the signing up was going around the mission I signed up to get mine not necessarily because I wanted the vaccination itself but the process of getting a shot to help me get used to needles. At this point I had either forgotten or was hoping that I wasn't on the list but upon obtaining the list I found my name to be the very first one. Luckily I was too busy handing out the papers to sign to everyone that I couldn't get my shot. Then I finally got to have Thanksgiving dinner after everyone was basically done. But then I was told that I and Elder Glade were the only ones who had not gotten their shot yet. So I went and took off my jacket and rolled up my sleeve and was all ready but then Elder Glade had to go to the bathroom so he left me outside pacing the hallway waiting for that fateful moments. But then the moment came and it went well actually. This was probably the first time in a long time that I haven't almost or actually passed out. 
On Tuesday Elder Glade, Elder Hatch, Elder Lundquist and I went to the Temple. That was a very special time. 
Well as many of you are probably aware, Elder Glade goes home this week. In fact early tomorrow morning. Due to the fact that my companion is leaving I will be getting a new one. Anyone remember Elder Roylance? My MTC companion? Yeah so he is going to be my companion again and this is going to be one of the funnest transfers ever. 
So it snowed last week a good amount that was sticking but it has gotten a little bit warmer so it all melted. But today it has been pretty cold and rainy. Since all of the departing missionaries have a special departing missionary meeting and exit interviews with President Kumferman I am left companionless until tomorrow. So I have got to hang out with the Zone Leaders here. Elder Lundquist and Hatch. We tried to pick up some slacks today for Elder Lundquist but the lady wasn't done with them yet. So we just ate lunch and picked up my drycleaning. Now we are in the family History Center in the Temple Accommodations on the Temple site. It was just us three but now it is us and the Borschagosvsky Sisters and the Svyatoshensky Sisters. So basically a party. 
Also, after the Thanksgiving Zone Conference we had our PA guy (Public Relations) for the church her come and make a video of us missionaries telling what we are thankful for. The video is on the mission's Facebook. So yeah. 
Friday to Sunday were pretty crazy days. Elder Glade had to pack everything and it seemed like one problem after another came up during those days in the office. And it didn't help that the Andrus's were in Chernigov on Friday. But we all survived. 
Also, Elder Glade as a last hurrah "slammed" (the act of drinking milk through a specific cookie called Супер Контік) with Tabasco sauce. Yeah he needed to go home.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot another thing. At the beginning of Zone Conference when President Kumferman announced our topic for the day and how it was on the Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation and was doing all of the announcements he stated that he was giving missionaries a gift of being able to attend the temple four times in a year as opposed to the previous three times in a year. And he also said that he was giving us an hour ti Skype home to our families and explained that when his son was on a mission that they were chatting away with their missionary son and after three hour he said "Oh, I guess our ninety minutes are up then." Then he said to us that he trusts us and explained that this was principal of parenthood that when a child shows that they can be obedient then you give them more freedom and that we were kind of like that child who had shown that we can be obedient and then turned to Sister Kumferman and asked if the hour was agreeable. She simply said casually "You know as a parent I would like ninety minutes. . ." then President immediately turned and announced "Ninety minutes it is then!" After some laughter and shocked sounds from the missionaries he said "Here is an example of how revelation can come." That was pretty funny and just great. 
One more thing. Elder Lundquist next to me is writing his email this week in the style of a teenaged girl. Which means no capitalization and lots of random emojis. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

We went to the Temple

And I left Elder Glade. 

Departing missionaries. Elder Glade, Elder Konstantynov, Elder Isom, Elder Western, and Elder Carr.