Monday, April 21, 2014


I don't know how to start this.

Good afternoon good evening and goodnight--not to you, but moreso these gaming boys whose cross-room shouts steeped with preteen voice malfunctions are preventing this experience from being as monumentally spiritual as it could be.  

I still don't know how to start this.

Hahahah-- this feels like nothing I've ever experienced.
I won't talk so much about past week experiences, as much as everything in a whole. Probably the single most unavoidablly difficult task on these week's to do list. (Getting to my gate not included.)

I know that Jesus Christ lives. 
I woke up this morning, naturally to the morning sunlight, and refused to check my phone, which usually speeds up the heartbeat until it rings. Instead--my mind just occupied itself with thoughts of what Christ did throughout the good majority of His life. Going here, going there, walking all around----the entire time choosing, moreso just naturally having compassion on others. 

He gave them everything. The least of least, captured His time, attention, will, and love. 
And it made me think about we 80,000 and counting, are called to do here as missionaries. 
To go and do what the Savior would. To live like Christ would. To find and help, reach out and serve the way He was so apt to do.

And how, for no reason at all, should this indescribable blessing and privilege be conditional with waxing on, waxing off of a black nametag.

A mission has let me know that this is life long. The gospel is eternity long. The relationships Heavenly Father gives us are eternal. Heavenly Father works with His children. In order to work effectively, any good manager or mentor would know his employees and coworkers to a good degree. Heavenly Father knows His children to a great one.

I tried to keep the signs down to a minimum, manifesting themselves against their will once upon a final weekly planning. Sister Hancock was my best friend to eventually hug me through the tears, as I told her I didn't want to set goals for the last week of my mission. Oh, to understand what is happening--only makes one push it aside to forget it and be where I know how to be best. 

I love you so much. Easter was amazing. Easter Russian cake incredible. Miracles are still happening. I am so grateful for the blessed support and influence you have all been to me on this mission, and in my life. Thank you for your incredible examples of Christlike service and love. 
See you on the other side,
Sister Clyde

Monday, April 14, 2014


So I got 27 minutes and waning.
Astronaut day was Saturday! Everyone loves Gegarina, however it's spelt in English for his space accomplishments--not to mention dashing billboard pearly whites.

Speaking of teeth.
Sister Henricksen and I were enjoying our last of 4 exchanges together, when we came comin' round the mountin' when we came--meaning up and over the beautiful bridge of the Balakovian canal. It stretches over the gorgeous Volga River, one of the few things I've been slighted on throughout my time here in the motherland. Anyway-- the sunshine dancing on the rolling blue waves, a view that stretched for miles, and the chilly breeze brushing our pony tails all over our faces. Not the best contacting strategy if you ask me. Haha-- so we're walking, when all of a sudden this Russian middle ager man leprechaun strides his way up to on the spot inform us that we are the world's most beautiful girls, and where in the world did we get those bright beautiful teeth, doggone it. Taken aback by the absolute lack of normalcy for how to greet 2 passing maidens, I couldn't get a word in--- before he asked more pressingly, "must've gotten them implanted in Germany---they got GREAT TEETH THERE!!!

Sir, don't put words in my mouth, (or for that matter, foreign teeth), in my mouth. Thank ya.
Hahah-- we were already on our busy way past him, distance now increasing, when he tipped it off with yet more detail, "I SERVED THERE IN THE ARMY!!!"  and at this point anything might pacify him/ deter him from booking it after us, so I called "ZDOORAVAH!!" meaning splendid, with a fitting over the shoulder doubled thumbs-up. Haha. I don't know why I did that. But, it got a laugh out of him so I guess that's all the world really needs.

Give or take the incredible light of restored gospel truth.
We loved loved loved conference. Loved. 
Boyd K. Packer's closing testimony anyone. Anyone.

A miracle on saturday, as we were finally abe to see dear dear friend Olevtina, who has been on her sick bed for so long.
And then, Remember how Natasha again came to church??? We joined her in her kitchen on thursday to hear the warmest, most wonderful review of her first-time experience at church. There was a tangible, contagious lightness in the way she gracefully smiled, thinking back on the light she felt. And then her thoughts that she didn't shy from sharing about wanting her daughter, Kasoosha, to also join in and see for herself. Oh. She will be baptized. And to see Rustam, basically silenced from the spirit and disbelief at someone so receptive to our sunday meeting. Rustam's silent mode happens rather rarely. Haha. 

Family, I just know the gospel is true. We had a kind of scary experience, heading in to a podezd, stairwell, on Saturday after watching conference and a baptism with our investigator, Daniel, who is soon set for baptism. It was finally time to confront his parents and hear their voiced permission for his decision--something we've been attempting for weeks. Daniel nervously dodged the task, turning down even hints of approval from his mom over the phone. We finally stopped on the dark staircase, and I offered a prayer so that we could have the spirit with us, and to calm Daniel's nerves. And then the miracle happened with them in the kitchen. 
More for next week. No, I can't say that or I'll burst in to tears because it will be my last email home.
I know the gospel is true, I know it I know it, it makes me cry, and I know it.
I love you all, pray to be kinder!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, April 7, 2014


An olden Russian man was sitting on a pipe--already step up from smoking one--that ran parallel to the apartment building we were passing. We asked him for some direction, so I righteously capitalized on the opportunity by initiating gospel conversation with a chap, rather than chick. A neighborhood babooshka overheard the raucous, who happened to be sporting a rather demographic-contradicting pair of silver moonboots, passing by and looking fly. It's safe to say that any perfect stranger who interrupts a moment with any other perfect Russian stranger with an arm raised, finger pointed in our faces, will not be blooming in to Progresso material at any point in the ensuing 24 hours or months.
Don't let that into deter you from the pearls of wisdom we happened to learn from our new-found friend, Viera. She went off on an anti-American rant, despite our pleas to disengage from the fact that it's our country of origin, and insisting on our love for the motherland. "You can only love Russia if you're born here," she chirped with inspiring accusation. I guess I missed that fairy easy to slip addendum of a guildeline on page 63 of the Russian rulebook. Continuing. Throughout the conversation, her armful of clothing continued to drop to the ground--I finally made the attempt to restore it, doing best to not invade personal space while tucking the shirt back in. My technique was deemed sub-par by the way she snatched it and rewrapped it herself, and added that my shirt-wrapping efforts were indicative of my non-Russian roots. Ahhh!!!! Smiles and curtains, keep it together.

She avoided well all jump-cuts to the topic of family, finally proclaiming "you're from America, you speak English!! Ya don't even have your own language," as if inhabiting and setting a virtually unmapped continent weren't challenge enough. Step it up forefathers?  Haha--needless to say, Viera had a good heart and some pretty pumped up kicks.

I think the highlight of the week may have been our district's rendition of "redeemer of Israel," for the opening hymn last Friday. It's been ages since I've heard a good baritone, giving an aspiring altos something to work with. Haha, thank you Elder Hansen. Haha, there's a reason they choose that one for the opening of general conference more often than not. HOW WAS CONFERENCE!? We only watched Elder Holland's talk, which will suffice for holding us over until next week for when translation comes in.

Natasha came to church. She came came came to church!!!!!!! Family, I could cry---I don't think I've ever been quite so excited about an investigator, who is so head-on solid. Vested. Wanting to know for her and her daughter, and the welfare of her family, if this church is what she needs. She came-- early, so she was greeted by the increasing flow of incoming members who would stop and introduce themselves. And, even though she'd just worked the night shift and was exhausted, not even being home yet-- she decided to stay for sacrament meeting. I'll never forget the mutual eye contact that Brother Andrei Markets and I made, me from the piano and him from the sacrament table--- that seemed to say, "SHE'S HEREEE." Hahaha, I couldn't believe it. And, I had the opportunity to climb up the stairs and share my testimony in the comfortable middle of my dearest Russian brothers and sisters. I looked out at the congregation, all 50 pairs of eyes on me--as I began to convey what our Savior means to me. It was not a dry 2 minutes, as I told them all how much I've come to love them--- and how I can't do anything to express how much life-touching good a mission, for Heavenly Father, has done, for me. How much indescribable, blessed joy. Oh, and the tears rolling down Anaitt's, Sister Hancock's, and other's faces--- a foretaste of what I hope forever will be. To understand my love for those people and the mutual conviction of the gospel. No greater gift.

I love you, share the gospel.
Sister Clyde

Monday, March 31, 2014


Wow. Short email this week.
Another slapdash night of planning, phone calls, brushing teeth, and 120 mph heartbeat. Bedside prayer in record time as margin for obedience error is waning is hardly enough to pacify the missionaries before heads hit the pillow. I drifted in and out of sleep for the following few hours, but finally action needed to be taken--- usually meaning putting on a sweatshirt, drinking water, or cracking open a Lithonia. Insomniac sisters mean business. This time, still nothing.
Finally I realized the stuffy room wasn't helping anyone, so I jumped up, twisted the handle, and cracked the window--ready for the fresh breath of 2am night air to flood in. Instead we get something different. The low moan of an injured cat sounded in our sleepy ears--- yet to be joined counts later by 4 other cracking comrades--- when Sister Hancock said she was going to kill someone making her mutual consciousness known. And charity issues. Haha, kidding. So THIS is what goes on around here at night??? The dissonance of the dying cat choir was the final straw. Window got shut back up real fast.

Haha. Good, quick week. Amazing district conference. Wonderful, with all leaders from near and far, including president Schwab and a leader from Ukraine.
Natasha is progressing so so so well!!!!!!!

Things are looking up with our investigator, 14 year old Dash. Ok, there is no way that this notebook will permit to correctly type her name. She knows baptism is RIGHT. She just has some things that are holding her back.

I will never forget the spirit that illuminated that Russian kitchen on Friday night, as her family---- FATHER INCLUDED--- joined the missionaries around the table for French toast, and a discussion about God and His existence.

Wow. I cannot believe how wonderful it was. If my short thrown out words cannot convey it, maybe the video clip that I didn't get of my and Sister's Hancock's wordless elevator hug might do the trick. Pure joy, to see this man finally pull up a chair and offer his thoughts. And encourage his daughter to participate in the gospel discussion, although still not even a member himself, let alone meeting with the missionaries--despite the burning testimony of his wife Cveta and son Grisham. They are the people in the pic back a few months ago around a Christmas tree???
Anyway---I think Michael's conversion, just might be the ticket for his daughter's.

Sister Clyde
Happy Conference!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014


We rounded the street corner in the chilly sunshine after Friday's district meeting. "Hello!" we called to the grandmother, occupied with her charming grandson- both about 20 ft away. A little surprised, as we were sure would be the case. So, we kept the conversation rolling to make light of it. A few more casual questions about weekend weather, etc... when suddenly the grandson's agenda decides to manifest itself a  little more plainly than before. The kid scoops up with his shovel a heap of the snow debris with an expression in his eyes that said "hit the highway," and launches whatever he can at the surprisingly agile sisters, more adept at dodging threats of a toddler than he thought. Three can play at this game. "Come on Sonny, be nice," the grandmother urged, still trying to chat with us. The child continued his revolt, as we endured all of 4 snow firings--before the woman understood it could be used as a way out. "look, he really doesn't like when I talk to stranger," she caved---only empowering him and weakening her future defense as an authority figure. Pity. Salvation anyone? Looks like toddler temper tantrums would be 1-0. She began to laugh. Seeing that the missionaries were retreating due to inclement spouts of weather and receptions of the gospel message.
"Whadduya bet that kid gets a raise in allowance as soon as they're home?" I asked Sister Hancock. Her laugh solidified the suspicion.

Words cannot express how incredible the past week went with regard to a precious pearl named Natasha. This woman, who Sister YOUNG and I met with way back when, has finally come out of the woodwork, after months of us still making the attempt to stay in touch.
Natasha is an interesting woman--always with a look of distress, glitchy eye contact that happens on rare occasion, with dark circles under eyes as she works so much to support her less than perfect family. A mother of three, whose husband is a heavy drinker, is hopeful of discovering truth and getting things right as she enters the later stages of her motherhood-- that is to raise her last daughter differently. This time, "with God."
Natasha words come fast, as she describes minor details about the things and efforts she has made in order to seek out truth, amongst all the other corrupt churches she has come in contact with over the years.

We had 3 lessons with her over the course of this past week, each making leaps and bounds of progress. She prayed in each--- the first, most heart warming last Monday-- as she thanked Heavenly Father that "these girls have not given up on us. Forgotten us. We should and need to talk with them more."
She has been reading the Book of Mormon assignments we've been giving her. She told us on Friday of how she invited Kasusha, her 16 yr old daughter, to pray and read it with her. We finally watched the Restoration film this past week--- and there was nothing more exciting than the endearing scene of Kasusha coming in to sit on her mom's lap, up to the crowded table, to view it with us. And then, to hear her express that she didn't see the point of so many things in so many other churches. How it didn't feel like real, sincere, and committed worship the way her friends at school did certain things.
And then, Natasha re express her desire to be baptized. Here. In this church. After expressing, that after more than a year of meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses, they still had not invited to her join. Just to quietly study and be patient. She asked us why we had been so seemingly hasty- and the spirit guided each of our answers-- if it is right, and one feels that through the help of the Holy Ghost----why wait??
Natasha really, really liked that.

So, May 3rd it is. Which, happened to be the day before her birthday. I'd venture to say rebirth could be a rather fitting birthday present.
I didn't care about the burnt tongue from the tea on the way out----I could not keep quiet as I just gawked at Rustam, our guy friend member, and SIster Hancock, as we headed out and home on Friday---- doing victory dances of shock and disbelief, incredulous joy. WHAT JUST HAPPENED!!!!! ahhahaha, I cannot believe how blessed we are being, to know and see this process. AHHHH!!!

Have a great week!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, March 17, 2014


So I'm hurryin' on up back to sunday school yesterday-- just dried my hands and about to head out of the bathroom, when one of the babooshkii from the Dachney branch, hair snow-white, comes right on in. She happens to be one of my pals, I just don't know her name, but if you could keep that on the downlow I'd be forever grateful. I hug her and ask how her week went--when she drops in to story mode. So I drop in to courteous listener mode, because I like that kind of thing. Haha this email isn't mapped. 
Apparently she'd been on her way to church that morning. You should know that Saratov is a beautiful post-winter-depression mess in terms of weather conditions:) The sun is shining, the skies are blue, and the streets, sidwalks, and roads are mud mud dirt water and more mud. Along with washed up ice patches of snow still trying to melt. Anyway. Boots not the shiniest they've ever been. In fact, never more atrocious:) But Mom doesn't have to know! Haha--SO this woman. She took a spill on her way to the church, tired, frail, old as she is. Banged up her poor knee. She showed me her coats, skirt, explained they were!!! And how, in a jumble, managed to brush herself off and rise to her feet. A woman, hurrying past, gave her one look and threw in her insensitive 2 cents with the words, "you forget wherever you are going and head straight home, clean yourself off!"  

Well, my nameless Russian friend knows better than to consent to the verbalized opinions of inferiority from irrelevant passerby's-- and called back "I most certainly will not!! I have the sacrament to take this morning!!" And continued on her hastened way. Hahaha, what a hero she was to me. Even moreso when she again recapped this woman's attempts to deter her from her righteous goal, with the resolute, "of course I'd never heed that devilish girl." Hahaha. Heehee, my smile seemed to say. On that note--"Scatter Sunshine," sister Clyde's smile seemed to sing as I curtsied and ran out of the bathroom. Best behind-the-scenes pick me up I ever got. 

Companionships and the quality thereof come in alls hapes and sizes--but each and every pair shares one underlying characterisitc---there are two of us. Understandable, the anxiety was of a distant district leader upon the recepit of SIster Clyde's 'just tryin' to spice things up/we are home safe and on time text. Every single night, I send the commonplace, flavorless singular Russian word, pronounced "Doma," which means "at home." Thursday, in a rhyming panic, the addendum my fingers came up with was
"Doma, Doma, home alone-uh!" 
Hahah--the prose part giv ing a somewhat Dr. Seuss-like falre of whimsical apathy, regarding the fact that I was seemingly Sis. Hancock-less. Elder Wall, just beacuse someone cites beloved Christmas babylon doesn't mean you need to call in the big dogs. Zone Leaders-- we're hooommmmeeee!! :)

There was nothing like making our way around the outback apartment buildings, away from town center one a crisp sunny Mid march afternoon. All Russian retirees began to creep out of winter's fast-fading shadow in order to pich a lawn chair and enjoy eachother's company. A few elderly folks stopped us in our tracks, and we had the most pleasant street chat, as we asked if they'd been athletes--and other ears perked up, joined the conversation, at the desire to tell a little of his or her glory days. Some threw in some Ukraine comments that we didn't address, and then we were able to talk about what we were doing there. It was rather charming. I won't ever forget 79 year old Genaddi, with his blue eyes and nice gray trench coat. At first a tease, who didn't take the two american girls seriously. Whose thoughts and opinions softened, and wound up welcoming us back next time he was out to play stickball with the neighbor kids. 

We then caught a glimpse of an upclose Russian wedding!! As guys in tuxes hopped out of decked-out hummers where bridesmaids awaited them outside an apartment building. Thus began the bag of tricks and obstacles that the groom is required to pass through in order to advance up the stairwell and snag his prize of a bride. We saw her, Rapunzel, wave and giggle outisde the window on the stop story, and couldn't help but sign up to be flower girls. Story for next week.

Favorite moments of the week--- the sunshine filling Gallina's kitchen, as we thought two women in Relief Society about the miracle of the Resurreciton--a theme that we so often take for granted--at least I do--since I've heard about it since primary days. We shared Abidadia's glorious take on it in Mos 16--- how Christ is the light and life of the world. It is my favorite. The spirit ever present, as we together sang a colorful version of "He is Risen," and lonely Lioba loved every second, seeing as how her beloved son as fallen ill and passed on at the age of 30. 

Bogdon brought his bud to church a week ago. Meet Danielle, or Daniel is Russian. Um. This kid is due for baptism in a month. 14 years old. Already committed to read the Book of Mormon. Mom already signed his permission sheet. He prayed, although nervous, at the end of yesterday's lesson. Miracles, Moroni 7: 26. 
I just keep having this feeling, that life is a whole lot simpler, when we simply aim to make our will line up with God's. Until there is little to no overlap. No margin for error. I love this gospel so so much.

Have a great week. Call me!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, March 10, 2014


Hahaha. Email titles ain't comin as naturally as they once were.

Lessons Learned
-Nothing spikes blood pressure in yound and old like trasnfers-the rumors, threats, and hopes thereof. Haha, I think we over anxious sisters and elders have scarred the senior couple Reeds for the duration of their most likely transnfer-less time left in the field.
-Doesn't matter how much faith you have that this time, just might work--it is physically impossible to accurately arrive at any scripture and page destination on the street while wearing gloves. Sister H, those babies have GOT to come off before they wax antsy of waiting, take the book and run. Haha
-If stealthy, it is possible to capture the various displays of meat and pork around the area; clearly a limited time offer going on here. (see photo below)
-As much as you might intend to develop photos, sometimes there's no stopping society from shutting down, in honor of the one and only "Women's Day." March 8th, a time for flowers, chocolate, congratulation, and kisses. This year no exception! Hah, except completely and yes in every way shape and form--maybe. Anyway, could've probably guessed it by the garage door down over the store window that our needed shop was closed---just before we could verbally indicate the fact to each other, we were interrupted by the most tragic lament of a most distraught little boy--small, alone, and crying aloud to voice his despair: "WHAT? CLOSED!! WHY!! Whyyyyyy!!! As he threw his arm in the air to shout at they sky with a box of chocolates in hand- I think I remember laughed, as he kicked the wall, after heavy forehead pressed against the door--and finally in his defeat, set off.
"ооо нет -- зто закрыт???" I asked for clarification.
" Daaaaaa"  he pouttingly revealed, before making for the highway to go sing about it on his Russian harmonica that he DIDN'T MAKE IT IN TIME TO BUY!!!! hahahah, it was the funniest saddest greatest experience.

A very very intense couple of days. Transfer calls came in a WEEK ahead of schedule for all sisters. All week long with nervous thoughts hopes expectations and questions marks for what was to come for my final cycle in the mission field. To be pulled out and train a newbie was a very heavy side of possibility. I had to calm my thoughts after losing a little sleep when sisters came and stayed with us, full of news and inklings to the future since they would be heading up to samara to get Miss Ukrainian Sister Bonja up and outta here due to visa requirements. Talk to them." Wow. She made potatoes, chicken, and pickled tomatoes with bread. Hahah, with tea and jam and do re mi. Roostam came with us, and I will never forget watching this very normal wonderful woman putting a prayer cloth over and around her head, securing and tying it the way one would a bonnet, in order to read aloud Moroni's promise. Something she does before any period of scripture reading.