Monday, June 5, 2017

We challenged a Ukrainian basketball team and won!


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!


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


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