Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sophiavska Plosha

Some photos of Sphiavska Plosha

Lots of eggs and someone getting strangled


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!


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...


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 . . .


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 . . .