Friday, July 21, 2017

Elder Edwards Almost Got Converted

07/17/2017

What a week.
I don't want to forget writing about this so I'll just tell the story now. The story of how Elder Edwards found out his ethnicity. 

This week we decided to do something a little different. So we went to the Synagogue down the street. Elder Edwards' mom is Jewish so this was going to be not only a cool thing for me but a visitation of his heritage for him. We go in and every one looks at us confused and every person we talked to asks "Are you Jewish?" And every time I answer no and Elder Edwards answers half Jew. We talk to the secretary lady and she tells my companion that if his mother is a full Jew, then he is counted as a full Jew. Elder Edwards had his mind blown. He said "My whole life I thought that I was only half Jew, but now I know that I am full Jew." We took a short tour of the Synagogue and saw some interesting things. But the best part is yet to come. We motioned that we were interested in buying a Torah (The Jewish book of scripture  - Five Books of Moses) and then she took us back down stairs. She had us wait for a little bit while she went into an office to talk with someone. Then she came out and had us go in. This is where we met Yoseph. This guy is the exact image I have in my mind when I think of anything from Fiddler on the Roof. He spoke English really well but with a pretty heavy accent and everything just made me think of that musical. Yoseph tried so hard to get Elder Edwards to join his Synagogue and was using every word in the book. His main things that he was wanting Elder Edwards to do was to try on "Tefillin". Tefillin is what the Jew put on to connect with God. Yoseph pulled up on Google Images tefillin to show him because hi didn't know what it was and he got kind of freaked out. Yoseph was pulling out all kids of things trying to convince him. Things like "You're a Jew . . . it's in your blood, you can't take it out." "You and me, we are the same (Then addresses me "No offence") "Don't you want to connect with him (pointing up)" "I was sent here in 1995 and have always wondered why there was one spot empty in our congregation, but now I know. Come home Bryson." " You think that you just by chance walked into the Synagogue? That doesn't happen. He (Pointing up) has a plan". Elder Edwards is a pretty intense guy and knows how to stick to his guns. But he said afterward that he was pretty intimidated by Yoseph. After we "talked" with Yoseph for a few minutes they sold a Torah to Elder Edwards but claimed that they didn't have any more. But I am pretty sure that they just didn't want to sell one to me, a gentile. So that was a fun experience. Elder Edwards found out that he is a Jew and Elder Edwards sold me his Torah that he bought. 
Other than that not much happened this week. But things have seemed to be going a little better this week than previous weeks. Many more people are a lot more open to talk with us and we had a couple of lessons with non-members. 
The Nikaliev Elders came down this week and we had an awesome exchange with them. 
This week we actually didn't need to go to Odessa so we were here the whole time. 
Church was great this week. Elder Edwards spoke and it was awesome. After Sacrament meeting our First counselor gave the lesson and it went great. And he did a good job at helping the non-members there feel a part of the branch. 
We were out on the streets quite a bit this week and I actually took pictures with my own camera. I apologize that I can't send them. We can't use usb or other things like that on the computers here. But at the first chance I get I will send them.
Yeah so things are pretty good here. it's going to be interesting to find out on Saturday how President Kumferman is going to do transfers. 
Also, I hit my year mark. woo hoo. 

Старейшина Класон /Elder Clawson


A 5K and Zone Conference with President Kumferman

07/10/2017

So we took another bus to Odessa. Yes it was hot. It's always hot. We stayed with one of the Center Odessa Companionships. That was awesome. And it got even better once another set of elders showed up to stay with them as well. We had an awesome Zone conference with the Kumfermans. They are so awesome! You know how they say the third is the charm? It's true. You think you first mission president is great. Then you think how could you have a better one than your second one. Then the third arrives. President Kumferman knows Russian  so well. He was a Professor of Russian actually. He also knows the scriptures so well. That's because he was also a professor for that as well. He is a convert. He was baptized when he was about nineteen years old. He told us that his friends where trying to talk him out of being baptized by telling him all kinds of crazy stuff. He said that the one thing that was holding him back from being baptized was that he was told that if he became a member that he wouldn't be allowed to eat graham-crackers and milk anymore. But as you can probably tell, he figured out that it wasn't true and got baptized. He then served a Mission is Belgium french speaking. Sister Kumferman is from Alaska and is one of fourteen kids. Maggie Kumferman is their youngest daughter and is with them on their mission. They are all awesome. 
The next day we woke up and for our exercise time went and ran a 5K! it was so awesome. The Elders in center did a good job picking the route. It was awesome and we got got to see lots of cool stuff.we then had interviews with President Kumferman and they were just awesome. Elder Edwards and I were actually the first missionaries to get interviewed by our new mission president. 
After that we took our usual five hour bus ride to Kherson again. 
Sunday was super rainy. Because of that and the fact that a few of our members were out of town we were pretty sure that no one was going to be at church that day. But right before we had ten people show up. One of them was that lady from last week who randomly came in and asked about the Book of Mormon. After our meetings we got a call from a guy named Denis who often likes to just hang out with missionaries. We try to avoid it most of the time because it really isn't worth our time. But this time we felt just to say yes. So we talk for a little bit at the branch with Denis and then out of the blue a white crossover and a family hops out and walks in. They were all like hey elders! ( in Russian of course) and shaking our hands and we were just wondering who on earth were these people. The explained that they were from the Brovary ward (one of the wards in Kiev). They said that they were visiting the dad's parents in the Kherson Oblast and just decided to stop by our city and see the branch. They were so awesome and they were just beaming with the light of the gospel. They were so happy and friendly and just made you feel good just being around them. And then next we find out that the dad (Roman) know the guy that was talking with us when they came in (Denis). They talked for while and everything was great. The whole time though I was wondering why on earth would they want to come to Kherson. But I am glad that they did. 
I can't really think of anything else to report from this week. But I just want to say that being a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of the best things you can ever do. Just read the Book of Mormon. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson


Here is our Picture from the Zone Conference in Odessa with the Kumfermans. (My companion Elder Edwards is on my right and my previous companion Elder Merrell is on my left and Elder Carr is the third person on my right with the glasses and Elder Konstantynov is the bald one in the back. Just in case you wanted to know what my companions is Ukraine look like.)


Monday, July 3, 2017

President Kumfermann and Odessa

07/03/2017

Man Odessa again. We just don't have the money. 
So if you didn't know Kherson is about fife hours by bus from Odessa. You would think that we wouldn't have to go down very often especially due to that fact that it is 500 Hrivna for a trip down. But no. We get to take the wonderful journey down almost every week this transfer. And even better that we don't have any money now! Hurray!. I am sorry. I shouldn't use so much sarcasm, Ukrainians don't get it. 
So not only did we have to got down to Odessa again for me getting registered, but we have another Zone Conference this transfer this week with President Kumferman. 
Yesterday was fast Sunday and church was alright. We had some none members come to sacrament meeting without being prompted beforehand. And after the meetings another lady came in asking about the Book of Mormon and our Worship Services. We had a short lesson with her and gave her a copy pf the Book of Mormon. 
Today we met with guy named Chris. Yeah I know that that doesn't sound very mush like a Ukrainian name. It almost sounds American. That's because Chris is American but decided to forsake everything and permanently move to Ukraine. He is a pretty cool and knows Russian pretty well, but with a noticeable accent. He invited us over and he made us fajitas and kvas. Mexican and Ukrainian. We helped cut up all of the peppers and found out that they were actually spicy as we mistakenly touched our faces after. Nothing is Ukraine is actually spicy really. All the Ukrainians will say that one thing is spicy but when you go to try it you are highly disappointed. But these peppers were the real deal and they were very pleasing unto me. We talked for a little bit and then had to leave to go help a member out. But upon calling the member as we approached the branch building we found out that he didn't need our help anymore. So we got on another bus and headed over to this Internet Club to wright home. On the bus we met John (actual Ukrainian). He was so awesome. And he instantly became our friend. This was super cool because almost every one in this city hates us. But John is different. He is normal which isn't normal and he is a younger guy which i awesome. We need younger people in the church here in Ukraine because about 80% of the members here in Ukraine are old grandmas who are a third of time not all the way there. Anyways. We walked around for a little bit with our new friend John and bought some Ice cream together. 
After that we came here and started writing home but now it's turning into a paradox because if I go any further I will be writing about what I have already written and no one likes repetition. So I'll just end here. 


Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

But to our disapointment, science has not made a huge discovery and our member friend is only fourty seven.

06/26/2017

 Goodbye President Packer. You will be missed. But we are also excited for President Kumferman to come. We know that this next period of our lives will be amazing. We trust int eh Lord's servants.
 This week The Packers return home and we will welcome our new mission president here. 
 This week we had the Vogelsbergs come to our Kherson branch. They spoke and everyone loved having them here. Since we have so few people here I get to do lots more than I would normally have to do. Sacrament meeting is particularly stressful at times as I am Leading the music as well as blessing the sacrament and also translating what is going on for the Vogelsbergs. I think it would look kind of funny sitting in the congregation and to see this missionary running around trying to pretend like he can multitask.
 We got to meet with some of our members here and one of them gave us an apricot. When we met with her she showed all of these pictures and talked with us about anything and everything. We told her that we wanted to read a little bit in the Book of Mormon with her. Then like she didn't hear us just went off on another tangent. Then for the next ten minutes or so we try to bring it back and read but she wouldn't have it. She just kept going off on random things. And then even after we read one verse with her she went straight back to talking about the northern market around here or about her son in Colorado. But she gave us an apricot. 
 Most people here in Kherson don't like us very much for one reason or another. Either because we are missionaries or just because we're alive. I don't get it. I mean I haven't bitten someone for at least three weeks now. I don't know what their problem is. However there have been a few times where people don't run away from us as soon as they see us or try to set their dogs on us. We had some pretty awesome conversations with great people though. It is some what of a rare thing to find normal people here.
 English Practises are doing great here actually. We actually fill up the room with people almost every time. Last time though not as many came put these two awesome guys came and after wards they really wanted to throw around with us the Football they got. Not just any old European soccer ball. But an actual American Football. 
 We also helped this one member with moving some things around in his apartment. His sister and mom were there too and they kept trying to speak to us and explain things to us in their very limited English. We told them that we speak Russian but they didn't believe us. That is a pretty common thing that there are quite a few people here in Kherson who can't wrap their minds around that we can speak Russian. I haven't had this problem before really.
 While meeting with one of our other sisters in the branch we told her that we were going to have to leave soon to go help a member move things around in his apartment, she told us that he was ninety years old. I have seen this person before and can say that he is not ninety years old. And if he is than that would mean that modern science has officially reached the point of making someone immortal. And this sister was completely serious. But to our disappointment, science has not made a huge discovery and our member friend is only forty seven.
 Other than that. I can't really think of anything that happened this week. I mean other than the usual craziness that is always present. 
 Till next week. If there will be a next week . . .

Старейшина Класон  / Elder Clawson

Preparing for a musical number in the last zone conference with the Packers.


Elder and Sister Voglesberg are a wonderful senior couple that keep a great eye on the missionaries in the Odessa area. They took Elder Clawson and Elder Edwards out to dinner.




Kherson is a crazy little city that has crazy things happen all the time

06/20/2017

What a week. What a week.
This was one of the craziest weeks I have had so far on my mission. We'll start from the beginning.
Wednesday morning we wake up and head down to center Odessa to the Автовокзал (bus station) with all of my bags to meet my new companion and head to my new area. It was kind of surreal leaving my area this time. We get down to the bus station and meet the other missionaries. I leave Elder Merrell and head with Elder Edwards to the buses. We hop on and start riding. And then we did that for five hours. That wasn't the most comfortable ride I have had but it wasn't bad. Elder Edwards and I were getting to know each other and he was telling me about the area and then this guy sits down next to us and starts talking with us. We love it when people want to talk with us because they usually don't. But this time got a little bit difficult. Once we started driving it got really loud and he kept talking at the same quiet level he was before. He talked to us the entire time barely audible to us and we got tired of it really fast. 
Once we get to our apartment Elder Edwards realizes that he doesn't have any type of keys with him at all. He makes some calls and realizes that he left them in Odessa. So we find a tarp and put my bags under it and head to our branch building. There We do some little odd jobs and wait for our landlord to call us back. Eventually we are able to get a hold of our landlord and have him come and open our apartment. Our apartment is kind of cool. It is not like a normal one that you would find in an apartment building but is more like a little house. Like the little houses we have here in Ukraine. 
I am here replacing a missionary who ended his mission here and from the state of the apartment that was very apparent. But good thing I am a clean fellow.
Elder Edwards is he Branch President of our tiny little branch and I am his second counselor. We had a great Sunday and I got to speak and meet all of our members here. 
I'm not going to describe all of our little antics, but let's just say that they occurred often and it just adds to the flavor of the area here. 
Kherson is a crazy little city that has crazy things happen all of the time. 
So far we got to meet with a couple of members and have an English practice. We probably would have been able to do more if it weren't for the fact that we had to go back down to Odessa. It wasn't for the keys, they were mailed up to us. But we had a Zone Conference yesterday in Odessa with the Packers. 
Sunday evening we hop on a bus again and head back to Odessa. We stay with the Suvorovsky Elders over night. It was kind of funny that I was back there within a week of getting transferred out. Monday morning we take a super hot marshrutka ride to center and have an amazing Zone Conference with the whole Packer family. That was the last time that I will see them here. Next time something like this happens, it will be with the new mission president. I am definitely going to miss them. After that we trey to catch a bus going back to Kherson but are only able to get one going latter than we wanted. It was already full and our only other option was to take another one even later. But the lady offered to take us anyway. So for the bus ride back we were riding on a full bus sitting on wooden stools in the middle of the isle. That was not very fun. Probably the most uncomfortable ride I have ever had and probably will have. But all is well and we are back in Kherson. 
Other than that we contacted a ton and did normal everyday missionary stuff and stuff to live like eating and sleeping. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson




Kherson is known for their watermelons

06/12/2017

What an interesting week.
You are probably going to want to hear this sooner rather than later in this email so I will tell you now.
This week is transfers and Elder Merrell is going to be staying here in Suvorvosky with Elder Horton. And I will be serving with Elder Edwards in Kherson.
I started my time here in Ukraine in Pechersky, the dead center of everything. Then they decided to exile me down here to Odessa. Then as if that wasn't enough, I have been exiled even further out to Kherson. The only things I know right now about my new situation is that Elder Edwards was a weight lifter before his mission and that Kherson is known for their Watermelons. Also it is right next to Crimea.
This week we gave some more service and in the process of cleaning out this terrifying old shed thing we found this old canvas bag and we opened it to find about ten Soviet era gas masks. Yeah the really creepy ones in the movies. That was those.
You remember Sasha? The branch president's step son? Yeah so he has a baptismal date for July eighth! Just in time for me to leave. It was great. Last time we met with them we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their eyes were glued on us the whole time and we felt prompted to extend a baptismal date again. We always thought that Sasha would just follow whatever his mom would do but then without hesitation he just said Yes. Nadya still is a little bit unsure. She has accepted the invitation to be baptized but still wants to think about a date.
Church was fantastic yesterday. We had Elder and Sister Voglesberg attend as well as the Temple President and Wife, President and Sister Roth are just awesome. I remember when I was in Pechersky and they came and did a little fireside. After church President Roth grabbed us and had us practice with him a musical number for the fireside he was going to do that evening.
That evening after we finished up all of the branch business went down to center. We had a great fireside wit the Temple President. Every one said that our men's quartet sounded pretty good.
Next week I am not going to be having my P-day on Monday because of Zone conference. So if you are looking for an email, it will come on Tuesday.
Other than that, nothing special.
This week has been a little more mild as far as temperature. But it is still pretty darn hot here.
That is all

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson


A funny billbord and a view from the lookout place we found.
The bill bord says in Ukrainain, Don't look for adventure. Refuel Quality.

(I am sorry. I can't get the picture up of me holding the gasmask)



Monday, June 5, 2017

We challenged a Ukrainian basketball team and won!

06/05/2017

So last monday the water for or city got shut of. I still have no idea why. It was a little bit challenging, but we had enough drinking water. It wouldn't have been such a problem if it hadn't been so hot and if we hadn't played sports that moring in Center. We kind of overheard someone talking about it that said that it was going to be out until the eighth. We didn't hear it clearly though but that still didn't help the situation. But luckily they mean eight-o-clock and that night we had water again. It would have been a little bit of a problem if our city didn't have water for a week. If that were to happem anywhere, it would be here.
Then our power went out. Again. But then we got it back.
Other than those fun happenings we had a great family home evening with the Volkov family that ended up just being with the dad. He reminds me exactly of one of my companions. The way he talked, laughed, and all of the facial expressions he has.
Nadya and Sasha are doing so great right now. Especialy Nadya. Last week we wanted to give them a baptismal date but they siad that they didn't feel ready for that yet. But we have a feeling that they will accept one this week. Nadya has taken it upon herself to be the unoffical birthday celebration coordinator for our branch. She is making this calendar to post in the board when you walk into the branch that has everyone's birthdays for that month, and then she is going to hold a mini celebration every month celebratng all of the birthdays in that month. Sasha and and President Zhaloba are going to go on the District camping trip coming up. I think that that will be great for them. Nadya and Sasha are doing just fine. It helps when your husband or dad is the Branch President.
Ruslan helped us prepare the sacrament on sunday. Next week he is going to pass!
English practice is going great. We have lots of new people coming and people who invite their friends. People are often super suprised to find out that there is free english practices availible here, I am suprised more people don't come.
We had interviews with President Packer this week! Our last interviews wih President Packer . . .  They were great and I am glad that there is still a little bit of time to serve under him. I am sure the next Mission President will be great as well. It will be interesting. He will be the third mission president that I have had and the fourth that I have been assigned to serve under.
Today's time playing "Gatorball" with the other Elders was very eventful. We had a lot of people come and it was a little crowded. But it was still fun. Since the court is a first come first serve type court, we often have lots of other people who show up to play on it. We are always first because we get up at 6:30 while the rest of the country sleeps in. Today we had a basketball team come in the middle of us playing. I say team but it was more like a club or something. They tried to argue a little bit about how they wanted to play on the court too and then we let them have half of the court to be nice. But then we had some elders get together and chalenge them to a game of basketball. It was hilarious to watch. These mostly short american missionaries just creaming these jersied Ukrainians. After that we went back to playing half court.
I can't really think of anything else to report other than what I have already written.
I guess Elder Merrell and I are still doing great here. This branch is great. Missionary work is great. Life is great. Read the Book of Mormon.
Also, I have finished the Old Testiment and am trying to read through the New Testiment again before the new mission President gets here.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson 

Gatorball and interviews

The Vogelsbergs are a senior couple serving in Odessa. They ocassionally post photos of our missionaries. Here are some from a recent gatorball match - seemingly the most popular game the missionaries play.



President and Sister Packer are being released in July and have been conducting interviews with all the missionaries before they go. They were in Odessa last week and caught this photo of the district. 



Balloons and the Black Sea

This was actually two different days.







We took a road trip!

05/22/2017

So Elder Merrell got sick this week. I guess it was his turn. Last transfer I got sick. This transfer he got sick. And both times we don't know how.
We blew up a ton of baloons that had printed on them "Семьи навеки могут быть вместе" (Families can be together forever) and handed them out to kids and gave their parents pamphlets. Kids love us. And we made the mistake of wlking over to a playground and handing the rest out. We got attcked by a pack of those little beasts. I feared for my life. In like three seconds, the rest of the balloons were gone out of my hands.
We had some pretty good english practices this week as well as awesome spiritual thoughts afterwards. Elder Merrell and I had a little bit of free time while he was sick and we made a type of "Choose your own adventure" that we used in one of our english practices. They thought that that was pretty cool.
I was cooking dinner one night and then I hear this Police car with sirens on and telling people to get out of the way. I went over o the window and now have a new version of "Popcon Popping". it goes like this. "I looked out the Window and what did I see? Lots of army trucks hauling artilary!" I don't have the rest of the song but at least there are the same amount of sylobles. So yeah. There were lots of trucks driving down our road that were hauling these covered peices of equipment that had long barrells sticking out the back.
Last week we found that we had run out of sacrament cups and had just barely enough for that week. After that we searched all around trying to find some more but were unsuccessful. We call the other branches near by but only found out that they were in the smae situation as us! However we found out that the Illichyovsk Branch had some to give us as we wait for our order to go through. But at this point it was too late to have them sent up to us through Nova Poshta (a mail service). So we took a Road trip! We sat on busses for five hours that day. It wasn't what you uld call an ideal situation. We had an interesting time coming back. We passed by this block that had military everywhere and then a government building that had tons of military standing guard. And then a little bit later our bus got stopped and soldiers boarded and pulled off random people and checked their documents. That was interesting. I didn't see it but Elder Merrell said that there were also lots of tanks stationed around.
We had another sevce project that we did for Sister Raysa in our branch. We had the Zone Leaders come up from Tairova to help us because last time we did service for this Sister it was just Elder Merrell and myself and it was really rough not having at least another set of Elder with us. And it was a good thing that we had them with us this time because as well as doing what we did last time, we also moved these giant pieces of metal.
Sunday was another very long time at the Branch. We had a meeting before hand at 10:00 that was acually very very productive and then church and then Elder Merrell had to do tithing and other first couneler-y things and another meeting. So basically it was like a fast sunday expect for the fact that it wasn't our choice not to eat. Nadya and her son Sasha came again and had what seemed to me a good time. I didn't get to really talk with them after wards because they left pretty soon afterwards.
Ruslan, our recent convert got interviewed and next sunday will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood! This is huge for him. And we think that we may have a good calling for him after he receives it. Speaking of callings. It is possible that I will be called as the Young Men's President.
Other than all of that, it was a pretty normal week. I am almost done reading through the Old Testament. I am excited to go to the New Testament and then the Topical Guide!
If there is anything that I have learned so far, it is that you just need to read the Book of Mormon. Just do it!
Also. I just found out that the Mission I was origonaly assigned to and the one next to it, the two biggest missions in the world, are being combined!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Miracles and more miracles

05/07/2017

Miracles are some what of a common thing as a missionary. But that doesn't mean that they are any less miraculous.
We had some awesome exchanges with the Zone Leaders down in Taiorva. It was fun riding down for about an hour and a half on the beloved marshrutka. But it wasn't nealy as bad as the nine hours of bus ridding the day we had the Mission Conference with Elder Holland. I got to be with Elder South for our exchange and le me tell you. That is an awesome missionary. Not only is he fun to be around and good looking but he knows how to listen to the Spirit. We had lessons set up but they all fell through. So our exchange turned into us wondering around and talking with people. Now if I could have seen this before or while I was on my mission, I would have probably had a heart attack. But one thing I found that day is that I actually like it now. I think I have gone insane. No normal person would like going out and contacting people all with a white shirt and tie talking about somehing that not very many people want to hear about. But I have come to feel true happiness from it and man it brings the Spirit! We also had a fun advenure that day as well. We had planned on traveling down to one part of Odessa and finding this less-active family and seeing how they were dong and hopefully have a lesson with them. Just so you know, the week of this exchange was Elder South's first week in Odessa. So he didn't know too much about the area. But anyways when it came time to head down we found where the bus we needed stopped and hopped on. This bus was kind of stange. It wasn't like any of the normal marshrukas, But it was more like a small fifteen passenger van. And it didn't sound normal either. It sounded like one of the pod racers from Star Wars. But we rode for a while and then I found out the Elder South had no idea where we were. We figured out that we had gotten on going the wrong way and had ended up in Center Odessa about half an hour away. And what was even more, we had no idea where we were in Center either. But luckily I have been in Center just enough to figure out how to get to the Branch building there and then we got directions from there how to get home from the other Zone Leader. In the end everything was fine. We talked with a ton of people and gave lots of cards, pamphlets and copies of the Book of Mormon away.
Sunday was awesome. We had a little problem right before church with running out of scarament cups and no one knowing where more would be. But in the end we just improvised for the rest and ended up not needing to use them because we had barely enough. Nadya and Sasha came again! And I think that they had a great time. Nadya is still a little shy but she is just a shy person. And she has really warmed up to us elders. We had a great Gospel Principles lesson where I taught about Developing talents and skills and as a part of the lesson i had baked cookies and gave them to those in attendence. They really enjoyed that part. Especially Yuri. After chuch we had a little celebration where we celebrated Mother's day and the two couples who got married in our Branch. Yaroslav and Ira (both reterned missionaries and Yaroslav was even Elder Merrell's companion), and President Zhaloba and Nadya. They made some pretty delicious treats for us and again Yuri was having a great time. After Elder Merrell finished taking care of branch buisness we walked Sister Svetlana (the old lady with crutches) home. It was literally thirty minutes to walk with her to her appartmet and then two minutes back. At least she is entertaining.
After that it was almost time to skype our families. But what we had feared happend. The internet stopped working in our building again. But after a couple of prayers and fiddling with cords, it started working again right in time to start. We both got to talk to our families and say hi to each others and then after that the internet went out agian.
Life is great as a missionary. But life as an obedient and joyful missioanry is even better.
Thank you for your support and prayers!

Стфарейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Monday, May 8, 2017

A giant husky attacked Sergey

05/08/2017

Wow! What a week!
It has been getting a lot warmer here. 33 degrees Celcius warm. which means people are happier and we get to stand out even more with our white shirts. I think it is great when people look at us weird.
We did a book table, just the two of us. This was the first one I had done since coming down to Odessa. Elder Merrell said that they usually don't give as many away as up in Kiev here. But that was probably because they didn't have me! Because we gave away all of the copies of the Book of Mormon that we brought with us plus lots of other cards and pamphlets in the space of an hour! During that time I got to talk with lots of cool people.
Nadya and Sasha are doing great. They came to church for their second time yesterday and they seem to be enjoying church more and more. President Zhaloba said that they are reading the Book of Mormon every day now as a family!
We found two new investigators this week. Or I guess refound. Yuri and Galina were investigating the church a few years ago and now they are again. Yuri just showed up to church a couple of weeks ago and Galina finally came back to Odessa and was super excited to start meeting again.
We met with Sergey again. He wanted to meet at the tramway stop again and we were hoping that he wouldn't want to go to the beach again. Because the beach is most likely no longer missionary friendly. But to our disappointment that was exactly where he wanted to go but he agreed to go somewhere else. But now looking back, the beach would have been less distracting that what happened. So we go to this park and sit down and start talking a little bit. Then we decided to start with a prayer. Sergey asked if I would pray and I of course said yes. But right in the middle of praying right when I was asking for the Holy Ghost to be with us, a giant husky jumped on me and start attacking Sergey. Apparently the dog knows Sergey and loves to play with him. After trying to tell the dog to go home, we decided to go and find a different spot but the dog wouldn't stop following us. So we executed a highly sophisticated plan of hopping on the tramway and riding it a couple of stops to lose the dog. After that we found another park bench and talked about the Sabbath day with him.
Elder Merrell is doing just fantastic as ever. He has been having fun figuring out how to be a councilor in the Branch Presidency. He does tithing now and we take it to the bank and he conducted branch council yesterday and is just great.
Elder Merrell and I are exactly what Elder Carr told me when he found out they we were going to be companions, "You two will be like two peas in a pod."
Now looking back on what I wrote, this email probably didn't deserve the title it got. But everything just seems a lot brighter and happier. Also, I did some down and dirty scrubbing of our kitchen appliances that was much needed.
Anyways. All is great and I am glad to be here.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sophiavska Plosha

Some photos of Sphiavska Plosha
04/17/2017







Lots of eggs and someone getting strangled

04/17/2017

This week was a little bitter sweet. But the sweet kind of out weighs the bitter.
I got a little but sick and had to stay home for a couple of days. But we were able to use that time and finish General Conference and do some other odd jobs.
We had an awesome time on Tuesday night here in Odessa when President and Sister Packer came down witht their family and even Sister Packer's family from home and did a Family Home Evening thing with us. It was really fun. Little sophie Packer was conducting and did a great job. Probably trhe only person who wasn't having the best time was Kolya who trans;ated for them all (Exept President Packer). Especially when Sister Packer's father spoke. We could see the Kolya was having kind of a hard time with his accent and ot the most understanible English, nut that all change when he said "So do you all know what the difference between a Shepard and a Sheep-hearder?". Kolya's face was priceless. There isn't any difference in Russian between those two. But he some how figured it out and effectivly translated.
Last week we gave so much service that this week we put a limit on our selves. But what was funny was that no one asked us this week. So the only service we gave was our English Practices.
No it is time for a sad story.
I started getting some of my things that have needed to be dry-cleaned done a couple of weeks ago. I had it all planned out. I was going to take my blake suit first and then wear that one while my blue was was getting cleaned so I could have a newly cleaned blue suit to wear for our awesome Mission Conference with Elder Holland. So I began. First the black suit which was done a couple of days earlier. Great! That should mean I have plenty of timne to get my blue one cleaned . . .
So Friday came and I headed down to Center Odessa to stay over night with another comapnionship in my black suit. I was really hoping that while were still there in Suvorovsky that we would get the text that indicates that it is done. But it never came. I was a little jumping that day. When ever some one would call or text I would sit in anticipation to see wheather it was the dry-cleaners or not. So we took our 45 minute marshrutka ride down to Ceneter and as soon as we got of the bus I heard a text tone from our phone and heard Elder Merrell just say "Elder. Guess what." It was a cruel play of fate. It was probably karma from something. But I don;t know what I did that would cause karma like this - no blue suit. Maybe it was when I yelled at a seagull in Oslo, Norway a couple of years ago . . .
So what has been alluded to and has been talk about for quite some time now, Elder Holland came to our Mission this week. We had an absolutly fantastic Mission Conference in Kiev. If you're wondering how far away Kiev is from Odessa. It is about 6 1/2 hours by car. So we woke up at 1:00 am and headed to the Center Branch and then hopped on a bus and rode for ever. I'll be honest. It wasn't the greatest experience I have had.
But the Mission Conference was great. We got all learnerized and stuff. It was particularly interesting when Elder Holland started going into the Fall and the Plan of Salvation in ways I haven't thought about before. He also slapped one Elder a little bit and styrangled another. And don't think Elder Calderwood knew what was coming when Elder Holland all of the sudden ran over and rung his neck while he was gong over to the white board. It was so funny.
After that, our Zone (Odessa) got to go to Sophiavska Plosha (Sophia's Square) in Center Kiev and see all of the cool eggs they had there. After that, we left again for opur long bus ride down to Odessa. It wasn't that bad. The bus was nice.
We had some sealings in our Branch recently. But that meant along with Elder Holland being here that there weren't going to be very many people at church.
But some still came and we had 12 people there. And Elder Merrell got called to be the 1st counceler in our Branch Presidency since the previous 1st counceler randemly up and left to Israel.
So a lot happend and at the same time not too much. But one thing is for sure, I am pretty tired.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson




Христос Воскрес! Воистину Воскрес!

04/17/2017

This week was such a blast!
We had a ton of service that we gave. So much that we had to put a limit ont his next week for ourselves of how much service we are going to do. We helped guite a few people clean up and prepare thier yards/gardens for this year and had lots of digging and burning involed.
We also had a great exchange with the Zone Leaders down here in Odessa. I got to be with Elder Vanderhooft.We did a book table centered around families and we went to go set it up in a little square with a fountain where families and lots of kids are known to be often. However when got there with all of our supplies, the look of things was that it was just going to tank. But we had faith and confidence that things were going to work out and they did! One of our Sister started drawing the Plan of Salvation on the ground with chalk and then imidiatly a little girl came flying in on rollerskates and join in the chalk drawing. And then freom there things just exploded. we had tons of people flock around and start talking. I decided to grab some pamphlets and contact with them on the sidewalks around the square and actually gave away quite a few! I even got to talk with a few as well.One of which was more than a little drunk and talked for a long time and told me that he wanted to see me on the beaches looking for a good looking Ukrainian girl. I just laughed.
So you might of heard that Easter was this past Sunday. They are often on diferent days in the U.S. and in Eastern Erupoe. But they were the same day this year. This particular Easter was very special to me. WE had finally gotten our Church Easter inititive cards not to long before and hadn't had any time at all to hand them out (things take for every to get to those exiled to Odessa). But we decided to pass out as many as we could on Sunday, despite all the other things we were doing. Some traditions here in Ukraine for Easter is that you paint or make (you don't always have to paint them) Easter eggs and take them to get blessed by the Provoslovny Priests. The first thing I saw Sunday morning was huge line of people across the street to get their baskets of egs blessed. Another thing is there is a special salutaion on Easter Sunday. You go up to some one and say "Христос Воскрес!" (Christ is risen!). And in reply they say "Воистину Воскрес!" (Verily He is risen). Thye peoploe here in Eastern Europe are not a very open people. You will about 80-90% of the time get rejected or ignored. But on Easter Suunday it is not that way at all. If you sayChrist is risen, you will always get a reply. And if you are handing out somwthing like a pass along card, they will always take it. it was really cool to see these people completly change on the day we remember and celebrate Christ and his victory over death.
In addition we had some wonderful talks given in Church by some of our wonderful members. We had a visitor come who I found out was a Latvian who went on a mission to the Dnipopetrovsk mission and is now living in Iceland. It was really interesting to talk with him. And I now knwo what a Latvian accent sounds like.
Also we had a man come by him self who is the friend of a less-active member we are working with to all three hours of church. I think he felt a little bit out of place and didn't understand everything that wasw going on buyt was very interested and tried his best to participate.
We have lots of awesome things going on here in Suvorovsky and in this area of the world. I can feel and see the results of the many prayers on my behalf and the behalf of those around me. Prayer is a power tool if we will but use it.
Elder Merrell is doing great. I asked him if he wanted to say anything but he just said "I don't know." so I don't know from Elder Merrell!
Also I decided that Russian was too easy and have now taken up Hebrew.
Just kidding. Russian is hard.

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

I found the cool egg sleeve things at a market and remembered them from Russia.


The little cake thing is called a Пасха. it means passover which is also what they call the holiday.

The line right when I woke up. It was a lot longer by the time we left. 


Well, at least we thought it was spring...

04/10/2017

So for that past month it has steadily been getting warmer and warmer. But these past several days have just been filled with cold, wet misery. Right now we are at one of the coldest parts of the year. In the Spring when it's still cold and they turn off the heaters, and in the Fall right before they turn the heaters on. And the electic a/c machines in the branch building that can also act as heaters don't work as well. So no matter where we are it's cold. But today it started getting warmer again! But that doesn't excuse the fact that I had to do my personal studay this morning with my winter coat on.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, apparently. We don't really get informed on Holidays. But we figured something was happening that day when we saw a huge line of people waiting to get blessed by some Provoslovny Priests across the street. The line was way to big to get blessed in time for Church, so we decided to wait untill afterwards. But when we got out, they were already gone. I guess we'll have to wait until next year to get blessed ;)
We haven't had the opportunity to watch all of General onferene yet but what we have seen was just fantastic!
Easter is coming up. And you know what that means! Yes! painting eggs and taking them with your Easter cakes to get them blessed by the Provoslovny Priests! Hurray! I'm not sure how Easter works exactly here or if it is different than Russia, but I can imagine that they are pretty similar. But we finally got our awesome "Prince of Peace" pass along cards to give out. And in preparation for Elder Holland coming to our Mission, he has ask that we all read though the Four Gospels in the New Testament. It has been a wonderful expeience to have Spring here, happier people aroung us, and reading about the Saviours life and teahings before Easter and Elder Holland.
We gave lots of service this week similar to last week. And it was a great companionship unity building activity beeing on the other end of a two-man-saw with Elder Merrell. That day we not only found out that a saw horse is a luxery, but that Honey Locusts are EVIL! I don't care what kind of fruit they have if any or how pretty they an look. They must burn! We helped one of our branch members with her very over grown gard/yard an did some heavy pruning. And the thorns on that thing just evil looking and felt like it to! I am pretty sure that they were what the Romans used to make the crown of thorns that they out on Jesus. And I an under stand a little bit more of how painful it must have been.
Besides that we helped soe other members lean up their yards and cart away lots of trash for them.
We tried to meet with Genna, our wonderful Investigator, but we found out that he was in the Hospital! We called and alled and tried to contact him but havn't been able to get through to him. We really hope he is okay. And even more that he can still meet and learn what is need to prepare for baptism.
Elder Merrell is just great and is a wonderful missionary.

I am very thankful to be here in the service of my God and to have the support of a ll of you. I can feel your prayers each day for me and for those whom God is preparing to receive Hios holy ordinances and preogress down the path to Eternal Life.
Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson



I just burned sticks all day . . .

04/03/2017

So we were super duper busy this last week with meeting with people and helping members move and prepare for the season.
we met with Sergey who is less active. We talked with him about repentance and he committed to us to start that prosess again. And yesterday before church he called and apologized that he couldn't make it to church, but reported on his committment! We met with Denis (different Denis than usual) who is also a less active member. He was very open and even brough his friend Yuri! We met on a park bench and had a good talk. We met with Ruslan who is pretty Recent convert in our Branch and he seems to be progressing a lot more now. We met with Genna our investigator and I was just blown away at his faith and understanding of life and the Gospel. He now has committed to be baptized on the 15th of April and is making great progress towards that date. He understands and is so intune with the Spirit that he almost doesn't even need us!
Our English classes where great this week. We teach two each week here in Suvorovsky as apossed to my last area in Pechersky. We get less poeple that come  but every single one of them stays after for the Spiritual thought that we do!
We helped Sister Anya and her mother and brother move apartments. Elder Merrell said that last time they did that that it didn't take very long or get very dirty at all so we went to help in our normal prosolyting clothes. To our (namely me) disapointment, there were some things that we very dirty like a old, dirty and wet water heater that got us (namely me) pretty dirty. Thank goodness for washing machines! On Saturday we went to help Sister Svyetlana who is an older lady in our branch who has a really hard time walking and doing physical things. Us and the Sisters in our District went to help her out. We got there and realized that we way have been in for more than we bargained for. Because she lives alone and can't really work, datcha (farm house thing that includes a yard) was in need of a lot of help. So we got to work and stayed there for about 6 hours. We cleaned up most of the garbage in the yard and prepared the ground for planting as well as cut off branches and getting all of the sticks and pieces of wood out and intot eh fron part of her yard. One thing that is very common here in Ukraine and this part of the world is to just burn what you don't want. It would be preyy iligal in the U.S. but here you just build a fire out side your house by the road and burn all of your unwanted sticks, leaves, grass and things like that. Then I was put on stick burning duty some how and spend my day feading the fire with branches and twigs from sawed off tree limbs.Now let me tell you. I have never ever smelled more of smock inmy live than that day. It took quite a bit of wqork to get the smell out of my hair which lasted a about a day and a half. so that was fun.
Our branch here in Suvorovsky is pretty small but it has definitely grown since some of the other missionmaries I know served here. And yesterday we hit 47! It was crazy to see that many people there in this little branch. It may not seem like very many people at all especially coming from Pechersky which has about 160 come on a regular basis. But when Elder Carr (my first companion here in Ukraine) served here, there were only 15 people that came. And after our regular meetings yesterdsay, we had an awesome Branch Council where loots of great things were brought up and desccused.
There are great things that lay in wait for us in the distance, but the future isn't far off!! 
Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. I want to let you know that they are definitly felt!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

My Companion indicated to me one day that he had never tried Indian food at all . . . Then I decided that that was going to change.
It was pretty good Tikka Masala but I think it was missing something.
. . . Perhaps and Indian to make it . . .

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Odessa

03/27/2017

Well then. No more Metro I guess.

   There once was a little boy whose name was Elder Clawson. He served in the middle of Kiev for the begin of his time in Ukraine, He had it all. The Metro, the sites, the big ward. It seemed like things couldn't get any better. Then one day that little boy got a very special call. He found out that he would be leaving! How could this be? How could he leave everything he knew and loved? But then he remembered what it was like leaving home. He felt very many of the same feelings as he was felling now. So he decided to go and do as he read in the Scriptures, and be brave. He packed his bags and left. He hopped on a train and saw lots of exciting things. "Hey, this isn't bad at all!" he thought to himself. He thought that for only a short time though. For the ride down to his next area began to be very boring. A rumble from his tummy told him that he needed something to eat. Luckily the train he was on wasn't just any train. It was the best of the best. The newest of the newest. He searched and found a small cafe where he found something to munch on. Then he setteled down for a long nap. Next thing he knew, they were stopped and it was very dark outside. He wondered what was going on. He asked one of the other little missionaries on the train with him and then he found out that they were there! He got everything together as quickly as he could and hopped off the train and met the mystical "Odessa Missionaries". These were a different type of missionaries that he had never seen before. But it was all okay. Because he was going to be brave. He met his new companion and hopped in a taxi. He was still very sleepy from his long nap but it was alright beause it was already bed time. the next day he woke up and got ready to work hard. He still didn't know very much about this strange place, but he wasn't afraid anymore. But he found something out that day . . . No more Metro.
So as you may or may not have realized. I am in Odessa Now!
It was definitely an adventure but everything ran very smoothly. I only had to travel with one of my bags because I was wise and sent the others through Нова Пошта (Nova Hoshta). And the next day after I arrived, so did my bags. I am so good.
My area is called the Suvorovsky area (Cуворовский), and it is wonderful!
We have a small branch of about 30 people but they are all great. We have the Black Sea pretty close here and it is still chilly enough that it is still safe to go contacting on the beaches. But once it gets to be short sleeve weeather, it will have been already too late.
Our companionship and the Sister Training Leaders are the only ones in our area which is far away from everyone here in Odessa. And the Sisters aren't even in this area but in Center Odessa for five days out of the week. So we are pretty secluded here in Suvorovsky.
On Saturday we gave service to one of the members in our branch. We tilled and prepared the ground for planting which is coming up soon here. And then afterwards we had some tasty borscht.
We had Ukrainian daylight savings on Sunday and it was a little tough for us all that day to stay awake.
Today we woke up and got ready to got right away. We rode down to Center Odessa and met the other Elders and played some "Gaterball". I didn't know what it was when Elder Merrell told me about it but then we started playing, I remember a game from school that we played that was the exat same thing.
Oh yeah. I have a new companion. His name is Elder Merrell. He is from Kaysville, Utah and is coming close to the end of his time here. We are both very much alike. We like to do many things the same way.
All in all. Everything is just dandy. We have a pretty nice apartment, a great branch and lots of work to do.
Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson











 

Staying in Kiev or Not?

03/20/2017


Hey everyone!
   So we got our transfer calls this past Saturday and we found out that I will be leaving and heading down to Odessa (Одеса) to the Suvorovsky area. It is right abouve Center Odessa where everyone speaks Russian and the Wards and Branches are run in Russian. And also my area has a beach right on the Black Sea. My comanion will be Elder Merrell and things should be pretty cool. Except for the fact that I will be far away from everything. Exiting times. But getting down there is going to be a bit of a pain from what I can tell. And in April when Elder Holland will come to our Mission, all of the missionaries in Odessa will have to wake up super early and hop on a bus to get to the mission office in time. And now that includes me. Hurray! 
   One of our investigators who we have met with several times is named Anton. I don't know what to say about him other than he is "mysterious". He is a Freemason and practices "Martinism" which is a branch off of Freemasonry. He invited us to check out one of his meetings. For the sake of showing that we are intereted in him and what he does in the hopes of helping him become more interested in the Gospel, we went. We took a long metro ride followed by a long marshrutka ride to get to a town called Irpin (Ирпин). It was very strange. Nothing bad or blasphomous. Just Strange. They talked about things in the Bible and briefly talked about God and the Holy Ghost, but not Jesus Christ. Just another testimony that what we have is straight from God. 
   I made a hat for Elder Western, one of the Zone leaders, but I forgot to take a opicture of it before I gave it to him. So hopefuly soon he will send a picture of it to me. 
   This last week we had an exchange with Elder Isom and Roylance again but this time we just switched. 
   We were able to make Elder Konstantynov's idea of having a "movie night" happen. It was kind of short notice but we had some investigators come and we watched "Meet the Mormons" and had some snacks. It went pretty well. 
   It was kind of tough this week because it seemed that every one in Ukraine had their phones turned off and didn't want to meet. But maybe it was just because "Pi day" was this last week. We'll see what this week holds.
   The wheather has been pretty nice here except for the past couple of days where it was rainy and cold. I actually had to start using my big coat again and wool socks. It would have been fine if we just sat inside and enjoy the gloominess, but that's not what we do. 
   Church was great. And we had a great Ward Council where we discussed the needs of those whom we work with. Looks like things are going to be picking up more here. But I won't be here to see it. 
   Things have been very interesting this transfer. Consistancy has flown out the window and has made me reavaluate things. But one thing I have always kept is my Gospel Study. You can't go a day without it. As part of prepering for when Elder Holland comes, we have been asked to read or re-read the four gospels in the New Testiment and four selected talks by Elder Holland to study. It has been truly amazing this time aroud re-reading the gospels and finding out so many new things that I haven't seen before. Especially as I pay close attention to the footnotes and the Joseph Smith Translations. 
   If you are strugeling with your testimony or lack a desire to go to church or whatever, just read the scriptures. Especially the Book of Mormon. As it is stated in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon:

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Thank you all for you support!


Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson






Ukranian BBQ

03/13/2017
This week was crazy, which seems to becoming a trend. 

Life is always interesting with a native Ukrainian Comapnion.

This week we were able to give service to a family here in our Ward. Their home caught on fire and burned a whole lot. We helped chop up wood and stack it and move around rubble and such. And then afterwards we went and bought some meat and had a mini BBQ Ukrainian style.

We had an awesome Zone Conference like I mentioned last time. And many of us have lots of ideas of how we can better use our talents to bless others and find people to teach. So far we havn't really had a chance to pursue them yet, but hopefuly we will in the future.

We were able to meet with a few people this week and had a great time talking with members and investigators. We visited Sister Margarita one evening and she taught us (me) how to make vereniki. So good! She also read to us poems/versus she wrote. and then started reciting them to music. It was super cool, but she used lots of big words that I didn't understand. 

We had a Family Home Evening thing with Katya and Sasha where we watched "Meet the Mormons". Elder Konstantynov made a "Fruit Pizza" as he calls it (It's wasn't really a Pizza to me) and gave it to them when we visited. One fun thing that happened was how we got picked up by Sasha in his car and he drove us to their house. In the car he started playing music. The first song that came on was one of my absolute favorites from my absolute favorite bands. I don't know how he knew. But hopefully I won't fall out of the Church now because of that. 

There really much that happened other than what I already wrote. We did however get a little bit lost at one point trying to find a member's home one evening. But everything worked out fine.

Other than that, I don't have anything else to write besides my experience of how imprtant it is to learn how to communicate. I believe that that is one of the many reasons I am here on a mission is to learn how to communicate. I have come to realize it more and more, but especially as I have served with Elder Konstantynov my Ukrainian companion. Just start now and learn how to really communicate with poeple so you won't have to hurt in the future. 


Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

You get what you go for!

03/06/2017

I appologize for being a day late. But there simply wasn't any time yesterday. Since it is a rule to email family every week, I get to do it today. 
This last week was fun. The Weher is pretty nice right now for Ukraine. Spring is just right aroun the corner. I can feel it and I can see it in the people here. 
We had a great exchange with the Zone Leaders where I was with Elder Western, And Elder Konstantynov with Elder Heybol. It was fun and we got to talk with a lot of cool people. We also got to meet with the Pahilkos and teach English. Elder WEstern and I both lived here in eastern europe before our missions teaching English with he same program, so we were able to work a little better with each other than peherps others might. But we taught the two kids of Brother and Sister Pahilko who was recently released as the Stake President here in Kiev to Serve as a Mission President in the Saint Petersburg Mission. 
We had the chance to give service to Katya and Sasha by helping them move furnature aroud since they moved from the smaller to bigger side of the house they were living in.. and guess what? Katya finally finished her Diploma! Hopefully she will have time for more imporant things right now. 
We had a Zone Conference today with the Zone Leaders, Sister training Leaders, Assistants, and President and Sister Packer. It was awesome and we talked about having a vision for where and what we want to see in the future our branches and wards becoming. And we also talked a lot about how to make English lass better and how to use the talents of us missionaries and of members and investigators. Elder Konstantynov and I are oing to start up a Knitting class here soon. So watch for pictures!
Besides that we had a pretty average week. But one thing that I have seen more of is that if you want a miracle to happen. You pray in faith and then act. do what you can to make it happen. And then it will happen. This is an If, Then statement. IF you ask in faith with real intent (meaning you intend to act), THEN the miracl will happen. Often times we either don't pray for it and just expect it to happen or ask with our doing anything. In the words of President Packer and is one of our new Mission Satements, "You get what you go for."

That's all


Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

The debate is settled

Also on 02/27/2017

Every single Elder I have come in contact with has comented at some point that I look like Robin Williams. There have even been missionaries who honestly think that my name is "Elder Williams". So here you go.


Happy Maslenitsa

02/27/2017

Yesterday was the start of the week long celebration of Maslenitsa (Масленица). Also known as the pancake festival. So time to make Blini!!
This week it seemed like we were just running around with our heads chopped off. Not knowing what was going on. 
On Monday we visited Sister Vera (Faith (you address the members here by Brother/Sister and their first name) ). One thing that we didn't think to check on was how far away she lived though. It ended up being closer to the Temple than we thought. It took quite a long time. . . but it was a great evening in their home. If I learned anything that night, it was that Sister vera knows how to bake! She gave us a loaf to take home and ohhhh was it goood!! I don't know what she did but I can't live without her bread! 
Usually for English practice on Wednesdays we have three companionships out of the four teach the three english practice groups we have. When I was with Elder Carr, we taught while Elder Roylance and Kovalyov did other things. Since being with Elder Konstantynov, we haven't taught English Practice. This last Wednesday we had a lesson with Anton, our investigator who I have only met with once before hand with Elder Carr. He is very knowledgeable and seems to understand a lot about how God works and our Purpose here on earth. He actually runs a Philosophy Society thing and talking to him it was very prominent. He uses lots of big words and make lots of big analogies. It was a little bit hard to not fall asleep while in the lesson. Even in English it's difficult, not to mention in Russian. 
that evening we got a strange call from a man whom I could understand at all because he was either mumbling or the phone was muffled. Thank goodness for Native companions! Long story short, later that evening we met with "Yuri" and he is now our new investigator. He is so humble and ready to receive the goseple. On thing he kept saying was that he recognizes that Satan is trying to tear his family apart and that he just wants to serve God. 
We got to meet with on of the Sisters in our ward who is deaf. She and her husband both are deaf and use Russian Sign Language to communicate with each other and their daughter and granddaughter. It was a humbling experiences to be in their home and to not be able to communicate they way we would like to. This week We also came in contact with, on multiple occasions, deaf people. both in groups and alone. I got prompting to start learning Russian Sign Language (РЖЯ). So far the only helpful resource I have found was a Provoslovny Priest Handbook thing for the Provoslovny Priests learning РЖЯ. In the beginning it was all mostly basic things like "Hello." "Nice to meet you." "I serve here as Priest, and you must call me 'Father.'" Then it started going into the more sensitive doctrine parts. For the most part it was all pretty good. like "Christ died so we can get back to heaven." and "We need to keep the Commandments." But it eventually turn a little bit "sour". I now know what the Provoslovny people do to receive forgiveness of sins and all that. Right now, when I don't know a lot of РЖЯ, I've got to be careful or else I might Sign someone out of the Church or something. The professional level translator in our ward who translates for our deaf Sister gave me an address of where I might find some more useful materials. Hopefully I'll be able to find them soon.
yesterday on Sunday, our investigator Vladimir came to church! I was so happy. We haven't been able to meet with him for a while and now he seems a little more open now. 
Also. One day this week, I don't remember which day. We met with a Potential Investigator named "Sigismund" (Сигисмунд) (Pronounced "Sihismund" in Ukrainian). We met with him on a bench on Khreshatuk Street. He spoke all of of Ukrainian which I didn't understand at all. It was very hard. Right after that when we said goodbye, we bought some honey from a lady on the street. While Elder Konstantynov was paying, A man walked up and started commenting to me about some of the items the lady was selling. After Elder Konstantynov finished, we ended up talking with "Fyodor" for quite a while and ened up helping him find his lost telephone. He is pretty cool and spoke 100% Ukrainian. I had no clue what so ever about what he said. But I still have grown to love him and hope the best for him. 
All in all everything went well this week. Nothing too crazy outside of our normal level of craziness. 

 Till next week. 

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson