Monday, July 24, 2017

They will live on as legends


This week we had fourteen missionaries go home after serving an honorable mission. They were wonderful missionaries that will be missed. They will do great things. Our mission isn't the biggest but we had  good number of missionaries here. But now we had all of those leave and none to replace them. The mission is a much smaller place now. They will live on as legends.
 This week we found out our transfers. Elder Edwards is headed up to Kharkivsky to be the next Assistant to the President. And I am headed to Cherkassy to serve with Elder Mattina who was actually Elder Edwards' MTC companion. All I know about Cherkassy is that it is int he dead center of Ukraine is far away from everything. It is becoming more of a habit now on my mission of being exiled away from everything. 
 This week we found out officially that our area was going to be closing so that meant that we not only had to pack our things, but clean out the apartment. That was a huge project that took forever but in the end our landlord was happy and we made him a spicy egg burrito thing. 
 My bag started ruining my shirts so I had to get some new shirts as well as a different bag. And my watch stopped working too, so that had to be taken care of. 
 On Sunday, President Cherniga came and spoke and announced to the Branch what was going to be happening. Missionaries will not be there anymore and the first counselor is going to be acting Branch President while the Area Presidency makes a decision. We had a non-member lady there who gave me a Orthodox book of prayers. That was thoughtful of her. 
 Right now I am in Odessa with two other missionaries who are waiting for their companions to come down from Kiev. It's kind of weird. This is none of our area but we are just going around and stuff. Today is a pretty strange Preparation day. Tomorrow morning I head up to Kiev and then meet my new companion and then head to Cherkassy. Lots of traveling. 
 Other than that I don't know what to write on. It was just a crazy week and tat the same time it seems like we didn't do very much. I guess I'll say hi from Cherkassy then!

Старейшина Класон / Elder Clawson

Friday, July 21, 2017

Elder Edwards Almost Got Converted


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


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


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.


 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


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


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)