Monday, November 6, 2017

Blessings of the Temple and Member-Missionary Work


I think it is a pretty huge blessing to have a temple here in Ukraine. We are the only ones with a temple in all of Eastern Europe. So that is a pretty giant blessing to be here and serve in this area where we see it and walk by it everyday. Another great thing that comes from having a temple here is that everyone who drives or walks by also sees it. The temple here isn't exactly in a discrete spot so everyone sees it and knows about it. And that means that almost every week we get some one who just walks in because they felt something or were just attracted by the beauty and cleanliness of this place. 
This last week we got a call as is usual from the temple front desk saying that there was a man there who wanted to know more. So we hurried and put on our coats and walked on over to the temple and met Armen. Armen in Armenian which fits his name and he is probably the coolest guy I have ever met. He is so nice and so humble. He looks a little like a member of the mafia but he is the kindest person ever. He told us about how he has relatives who live in LA that know about our church and told him about how we are all really nice and how we don't smoke or drink or any of that stuff. And after he was in a pretty serious car accident he was told by doctors that he was going to be paralyzed for the rest of his life. But through some sort of miracle he said "I walked here on my own to feet." He also told us about how he has found that he is happy when he serves other people. When he sees someone who is in need and helps them not expecting any compensation. We game Armen a tour around the grounds and inside the church and talk about what we do and what happens here during Sundays and what is the Book of Mormon. He seemed really genuinely interested and we have great hopes for him. On Sunday he came to church and was talking with the Temple President, President Roth. Armen came in a suit but didn't have a white shirt on, but a black turtle neck which made him look even more like a mafia member. But it was good to see him make an effort to come prepared. He stayed for sacrament meeting and he was very interested in everything that was going on. We introduced him to Bishop Aleksey and everything went perfect that day with him. He said he is going to come next week and hopeful if not on Sunday but during the week as well we are going to meet with him. Another thing he said was. "Yeah I like reading the little books (Brochures) but I like talking with you guys more." 
Another awesome thing that happened was that we had two baptisms on Saturday where two investigators the other Elders were teaching got baptized. Now every baptism is special but these were extra special because these baptisms were in the Kiev International Branch where all of the temple missionaries and Senior Couple attend. Anthony and Blessing are a couple from Nigeria who live and work here in Ukraine as Doctors. Their friend Emmanuel who is a member and also from Nigeria living here helped them get interested and then eventually they got baptized. Another cool thing is the connection between them and President Kumferman. President Kumferman's son on his mission baptized Emmanuel, Anthony and Blessing's good friend. So it was a great honor for President Kumferman to be apart of those lessons and to baptize and confirm them. 
Sunday was an interesting day. Since it was the beginning of the month that meant that there should have been fast and testimony meeting. But we only had fast and testimony meeting during the Borschagovsky ward. But during the International branch we had branch conference instead. That was okay though. There was one talk that was pretty funny during branch conference. President Podubny got up to speak at the end and introduced a scripture in John 1 talking about Nathanael. "45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses int eh law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, come and see."
upon reading this President Podubny explained that it wasn't normal to have some spiritual thing come out of Galilee, and then he said "Like an Apostle from Odessa." We all got a big laugh out of that. 
There weather is getting a lot colder here but today we actually have blue skies. Ukraine is a strange place but is filled with lots of wondrous things. 
Elder Glade is a great missionary and friend. He is going to be leaving soon for home and he will be greatly missed here in Ukraine and especially here in the office. But he needs to get on with his life.

Thank you all for your love and support.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

From left to right on front row: Emanuel, Blessing, President Kumferman, Anthony, Mercy (Blessing's sister who is getting baptized in two weeks!), and Emmanuel's wife (I do

Monday, October 30, 2017

President Martino, Sloppy Joes, and a huge wall of Dimitri


There is a special place in my heart for those who serve down in Odessa. Their trials and travels are no alien thing to me. I know because I have experienced it myself.
This week we had another special Zone Conference. But this time the special Zone Conference was extra special. We had not only both Kiev Zones together but also with the Odessa Zone. Those poor Odessa missionaries had to get on a bus at 3:00am and ride for 6 1/2 hours up here to Kiev in order to make it here by the conference at 10:00 am. I understand this because this was me. But it was awesome for me because I could pay attention probably unlike them. 
Also what made this a super special all mission conference was that our Area President, President Martino came and taught us. That was a really neat experience. And then for lunch we had sloppy-joes which was made by Sister Mitchell as one of her last hurrahs that would continue even after she left. She made everything and then froze it about a month ago and then left and then we got to partake of her dedication to us. Another one of her "last hurrahs" was completing (we actually did most of the work) the cook book for the Senior couples here. The title is "Family favorites with a touch of Ukrainian". Probably my favorite recipe in there is called "Sloppy-joe meat for a 100 people". 
After that there wasn't much that went on. I got sick and was out for four days and am still by no means in the clear. But despite that I was so sick we still didn't get home form the office until after 6:30 pm which probably aggravated it.  
But one thing that is noteworthy is that among all of the many special conferences and meetings we had a special area broadcast on Sunday. There we heard from Elder Golden on the Area Presidency, Elder Martino the Area President, Sister Bingham the Relief Society General President, Elder Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy, and finally President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
This week while at the office we got word that there was "a big man who wants to learn more". We walk over front he office to the church part of the building and the first thing we see is this huge wall of person. The guy was a giant and not exactly thin either. We talked with him for a little while and for a little longer while with Brother Rudenko our MCL. Dmiti (the guy we are talking about) came on Sunday and watched the broadcast with us. While Elder Glade was doing something I got cornered by him and he just talked to me. He has a lot of strange ideas but there are those little glimpses of promise. So we'll see what happens. 
Before we watched the actual broadcast on Sunday we heard from our local leaders. During this period the International Branch and the Borschagovsky Ward were together and we first heard from the Branch President of the International Branch who spoke to us in English while our Borschagosky Bishop Translated into Russian, then President Podubny our Stake President Spoke to us in Ukrainian and the same Bishop who translated before translated for him into English. That was pretty impressive.
Elder Glade is Elder Glade. He made me chicken noddle soup. 
Things are going to get pretty difficult here in a little bit due to the fact that we are loosing even more missionaries and not getting enough in return. But as a mission in response to that have decided that we are going to need to compensate somehow. And that some how is Spiritualhow. So we are all going to read the Book of Mormon from Nov 1st to Orthodox Christmas. This is going to be a really cool experience for us.
That is all.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

New Missionaries and a Whacked Head


I hit my head pretty hard this week. We were doing English practice and I dropped something and went to pick it up and while standing up I hit my head on a shelf pretty hard. And it still hurts pretty bad even today. 
We got new missionaries this week and they are the best ever! Even before we met them the Spain MTC called us just to tell us that we are getting the best they've got. And we saw that immediately when we first met them. In our district we have one of them now. Sister King. She's pretty cool. It's kind of exciting to have this kind of opportunity to work along side a new missionary. 
This week end we had Stake Conference and since we have some new Senior Couples we lead them to the different buildings where the meetings were at. So Saturday we were traveling with them as well as Sunday.
In our ward building there is a keyboard right by the bathrooms. So whenever Elder Glade has to go I practice. I started learning an Organ Fugue by Bach. It isn't the easiest for a binning piano player. 
Last week the weather was very much Autumny. But this week felt like January came early this year. Last winter I somehow managed without a scarf. I am not sure how. But with the new weather we have been having we went and got me a scarf today. 
On Wednesday we are going to have a special mission conference with Elder Martino the Europe East Area President and we are all super excited for that. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Special Conference and Special Transfer


This transfer was somewhat of a strange one due to the fact that it was a seven week one and the end of the transfer was going to be on a Monday instead of the usual Tuesday. And that was already strange because we as a mission were used to transfer day being on Wednesdays. It was also an exciting transfer getting to be here in the Mission Office and finding out that we are getting a new group of missionaries coming in! Our mission has been really struggling with departing missionaries and none to take their place. Yesterday was that transfer day and we had eight end their missions and leave this morning. But the good thing is that we have nine arriving today from the Madrid MTC which is a huge blessing to us. 
Yesterday we had a special missionary conference that involved most but not all of the missionaries. Just those who could come and were coming up from outlaying areas for transfers. This conference we had Elder and Sister Golden from the Europe East Area Presidency come as well as Elder Kearon from the Presidency of the Seventy. They spoke to us and we had a wonderful time there with them. It was kind of fun because they all had British accents and it was a relief for one of our missionaries who was departing who was from the Isle of Mann. 
Right after the meeting our transfers went into effect. I as expected am staying here in the Office with Elder Glade. A lot has changed here in the mission but not much between us in the office. We are probably going to switch roles though so I can get trained on what he does so when someone new comes in I will be able to cover all bases. 
This week we got our new office couple in to replace the Mitchells who leave on Thursday. Elder and Sister Andrus are from Orem Utah and are so great. 
Other than Monday, Saturday was a crazy day for us. Earlier in the week which was yet another crazy day, one of our members brought her neighbor who is deaf to learn more from us. I having been trying to learn Russian Sign Language was able to talk a little bit with him but we were so busy that day that we couldn't really do anything else besides give him some pamphlets. But we planned to have a meeting with him on Saturday morning. It didn't end up happening because the man came about an hour and a half earlier and then left after not finding us here we later learned. 
Church was good as usual and we had the Cherkassy Elders come up and stay with us again over night because Elder Mattina's companion Elder Johnson (the one from the Isle of Mann) was going home. 
Things are going to get busier and more stressful but that's all part of the fun. 
I just want to say that I have a firm testimony that Jesus is our Lord, our Savior and Redeemer. He is the way. A testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ is the first gift of the Spirit and Charity is the crowing gift of the Spirit. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and it contains the fullness of the Gospel. Missions change people and this work saves lives.

Love you all!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

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