Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve

Remember the festive Sunday in church--when generous Russian grandmothers rememebered all, missionaries included, with New Year gifts of ornaments, chocolates, woolen socks, and eskimo Ugg boots (thanks Cveta, not mah brand, but means of warmth? daaaa) There was a buzz of excitement floating around Sunday school when someone pulled out a purple balloon to play with, and the energy level officially reached hyperactive. The missionaries all played bad guy throughout the block to keep it away from mischievous children and more than once I raised a threatening pen or two to the inflated toy, yielding desired gasps of fear and aspirations for obedience, haha. Eventually it fell back in to dangerous hands and hallway reverance once again retreated. While fits of chatter festered when suddent POP!!!  
The balloon was stomped to smitherenes by the world's smallest babooshka. 

Hahaha- settled. What a wonderful, fast week 'twas. Christmas was delightful to see all of your faces. It wasn't until yesterday in RS third hour that I then understood that Philip had been MIA 3 1/2 times as he continually dished himself up seconds of nothing other than the famous Christmas rice pudding. Good choice bud, and the only worthy justification for burning camera time. Officially excused. Haha, and where's my portion? Anyway-- it was the best Christmas present, and sister hancock and I just hugged eachother afterwards as the final tears of happy, spiritual bliss were shed as we remembered our families and how happy we are to be serving Heavenly Father. 

It was quite funny to be in on the famous FHE at the Gorina's last week. We anxiously awaited the arrival of our investigators, Rooslan and his kind of tude-oriented buddy Deema. They finally showed up at the tail-end--just as we had hoped to squeeze in a last word of spiritual thought before jumping out the door and on a panic bus ride home to make the 9:30 deadline. Instead of warm-up and smooth segway in to what the gospel of Jesus Christ really means for us, and could mean for Rooslan, Natasha Gorina took the liberties of immediately saying to recently-seated Rooslan-- "what is your name, young man??" He answered. "Well, it would be well for you to know that here in this church we forego with pride alcohol, tobacco, narcoticss, tea and coffee. And, life is tremendously better because of it." Hahahah-- the crickets sounded as the festive room of adults and missionaries felt silent and Rooslan took in the new, most likely utterly confusing introduction he'd ever heard-- as sister Hancock and I did all we could to put a stop to hit, but could then do no more as we turned our heads to silently giggle at the misfortune of his first 15-second impression of the event we had so encouraged him to attend. Hahaha, there is no replacement for those kinds of situations. And even better, as sharp Elders Wixom and Tippetts were making their way out and attemtping to befriend our investigators, because to bear a quick testimony of the Plan of Salavtion in passing. Elder Wixom, clearly on the spot and many thoughts in his head, attempted to say, "Death, it's a scary thing..." but really mixed up the closely-related Russian vocab and said with the earnest, turned up eyebrow look of concern, "Death, it's a funny thing....." hahahah and I couldn't hide the instant smile on my face as Rooslan's eyebrows were also now turned up in again, confusion. AHHHH. Hahaha, so we booked it down the stairs, all investigators following behind us like a bobsled race through the snow and to the busstop.  

I've been thinking a lot about how there is this kind of frequency comfort we've reached here as missionaries in the field. Where we can average and maintain a frequent constancy of gospel-oriented contact-- so much so that there is no time to fear, procrastinate, worry-- just let it happen because it's our duty responsibility and joy. I've thought about what life could be like afterward---and how with time, it would be easy to fall in to a place where that ability, that frequency drops--- and discomfort and worry might be much more apt at truncating the gospel encounters that would be prime for taking place!!! I want to ensure that that frequency, although might not remain the way it is as a full-time missioanry---- never distracts me from the life-long effort to keep doing what  we are doing. Keep it up!! I'm so amazed with the legions of strong, faithful adults in the church, who still work so much to serve in their families, callings---and also share the gospel amongst others in the nonmember workplace. And how years, even decades, have not changed these oftentimes once-missionaries to share the truth that is so incredible important.

We had an amazingggg youth encounter on the way home from knocking last night!!! The teenagers, two guys and a girl, were tickled pink at the fact of our nationality. Hahah-- When tall basketball seeming Vova, fun cute guy found out, he insisted that we meet and follow up, after the other two Pavel and Nastia knew we were missionaries--and happened to still be interested, despite their proclaimed atheism. In excited parting, Vova threw Sister Hancock and me into his arms in a hug and there was nothing we could to have stopped it. Hahah-- so we both gave the polite one-handed double pat of approval on the shoulder so as to not be dead finish adamently against the nelzya embrace. Hahah, good boy Vova. Carry on.

I am so excited about Christmas Tree woman Meela!!!!!!! This is the week her work schedule disappears and she can finally meet!!
We set baptismal dates yesterday with Dasha and Nadya, teenage girls who are worried about membership in the churhc--we'll see where it goes!!
Last week had the WEIRDEST opportunity in the world to hear a cute autistic Russian kid sing every single world to "Call Me Maybe" as he stuffed more mashed potatoes in to his mouth---including the ones I was inconspicuously dishing out of my bowl and in to his since lunch had happened an hour ago and I didn't want more. hahahah, he just kept looking up at the ceiling, in his singing element and Sister Hancock loved every second. 

Love you all!! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, be safe!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, December 23, 2013


We often climb in to the rickety old elevator to shoot up to the apartment building's top. Hit the mechanical button to the 8th floor--or 9th if 8th is out of order. Then wait in peaceful silence as the iron doors slide shut and we defy gravity, rusty Russian style. Haha-- contradictory to the fact that Samara is widely known for its advanced Space facilities and capacities-) Sometimes it's a little too peaceful, so much so that a cautious hand of one missionary or the other will extend, ever so inconspicuously in to the space above our heads-- just far enough to tap the ceiling, signifying victory, securing 1st place, and earning justification to initiate the first attack of an elevator jellow match- or playfully and effectively shoving the other sister against the wall as she stries to defend herself, then all laughing and hoping the extravaganza's intertia isn't enough to dislodge the elevator circuit and make it out alive:) 

We do what we can to spread Yuletide cheer.

Christmas Eve is tomorrow!! Yesterday I saw Sister ancient Yevgennia(sorcerer robes and now Wicked Queen of Naria fur wardrobe-- you think I'm joking don't you) perched on her guard stand. A sacrament chair. I thought it might be nice to get down and personal with her for once, letting her in to my life for once instead of being the subject of her next private Lecture Hall of oration. I whipped out my photo album to a wonderful picture of lovely twin sister, Samantha--and noted that she was now currently serving on a mission in Rome, Italy. Evgennia's ancient countenance gushed with joy and admiration, "how wonderful, just wonderful," she oozed with joy. But then the excitement suddenly drained from her face---as her pointed finger of infamous warning raised to my face and said--- "She is a happy person." No argument there-- and then continued the prophecy--" She is happy, and will be happier than you ever will be in life."  Gulp.   Hahahahahah WHYYY!!! In laughing confusion I cried, "Evgenniya, you don't think I'm happy?!!" And she hushed me with "NO! NU!! I think you are a happy-- but she will always be happier than you. The Lord will require much from you, ALL of your life," far by the gravest voice in the building at the time. I was finally forced to leave her side, dismayed as I'd intended to ask more about my future from this wonderfully distorted 8-Ball of a Evgenniya. I let others in on my pain as I recounted the story aloud to the sunday school class of missionaries, Anton, and Anaitt, ending with their spouts of laughter. 

Sam, don't let it go to your head.

Russians or NOT OK to let anyone get away without wearing a snow hat. Hats are naht my thing. Haha- unless baseball caps. Anyway, l've heard from 32 people in the past month that it is time for me to put a hat on. Last night we were knocking with Anaitt, when I quickly massaged my temple since I had a very minor headache. Anaitt saw the move in the corner of her eye, and immediately informed me with a smile, "sister Clyde, you have head pressure because you didn't wear a hat outiside." Haha, I could lose all major debit cards in my wallet and Russian would still blame in on my neglect to throw on a crocheted winter beanie. Haha, hope you're laughing dad. 

So Andrei is the interesting gymnast man who isn't letting the sisters out of his sight. He is completely normal, just kind of weird. See past the oxymoron and reflect with me. He literally came out with us on EVERY SINGLE ONE of our 5 lessons yesterday!!!! He's making this companionship a trifecta!!! hahaha, and it was fantastic, as we scrambled to meet every one of our goals for the week. Such a blessing. 

Tamara is the woman who showed up a week ago at the baptism. It was so lovely, as she had readily agreed to pop right in and enjoy the spirit's company and kindness from all the wonderful Solnechney members. We, along with Andrei and Bogdon, led her home in the icy snow as we sang Christmas hymns. I have no idea how she is independently mobile, as we finally got up to her apartment building and knocked on the front door, to deliver her home to her young family of shirtless grandsons haha. Bye Bye, see you tomorrow!! Anyway-- we went back the next day, and had no luck after Romeo-ing the window with a few knocks, not rocks--since their front door wouldn't open. No luck. So we're walking on friday night--about to grab dinner, when I noticed a woman in the corner of my eye. TAMARA?!! We quickly ran over, when she pled for us to take her money and purchase some loaves of bread for her, and candybars for ourselves. "Tamara, where do you live??" Then she pointed to a wildly different aparment building. "She's crazy. She's crazy," I informed my companion. hahah, simulatenously realizing that we had freshly delivered a nice new grandmother to a family that had nothing to do with her, no recepit either!!! Oy vey, so we scadaddled to get the bread, and drop it off at this NEW apartment. Hahah, so much funny new update ensued in the following 2 days with her, as we finally had a sit down lesson, but then she refused to come to our activity since her older Son had forbade her. Ughhhh, what a bust!!! Anyway, more late gotta go!!!!!

Sister Clyde

sAY HELLO TO OUR NEIGHBORHOOD Christmas TREE saleswoman, Meela!!!!!
Hahaha, just bought a new tree:)

And, cool RUsisan landscape on way home from Penza exchange on the busss

Monday, December 16, 2013

I dont have an apostrophe key..dont judge

Dont judge.

Haha, no time so I will write quickly. 
We poured out in to the hallway of SIster Zinaeedas humble happy apartment at the close of a speakerphone lesson with little guy, Nikita. Bogdon had joined us as a member-present peer, friend, and somewhat moral support for a topic most 10 yr olds dont appreciate and all baptisms require:) Elderly Zinaeeda with gray hair, slurred Russian, and tired smiling eyes, bade us to suit up, suit up--as Father Winter doesnt take kindly to those who think to defy him, teh cold and the mittenless. We thanked her heartily, which earned us teh Zinaeeda specialty we have come to expect, a hearty kiss planted right on the cheek- no shyness about it; a little moisture, maybe. haha. In the midst of it all, my gaze stumbled once upon a preteen, thinking to escape the fate. My thoughts wired, determined that he be privileged to receive the same treatment. Haha--my arm extended as he began to slip out the door, grabbing the nearest think I could--his coathood; and effectively dragged him back in to Zinaeedas waiting embrace. Pucker up. Hahah, Bogdon couldnt help but satisfactorily complain, and we all left laughing.

Nikita got baptized. It was beautiful. Grisha did too. I sent pictures-- there are the elders sitting in a row with miracle Anton who has accepted a baptismal date and is so so so receptive to the spirit. He came to FHE last week, and just ate up the spiritual happy atmosphere of a family in Russia who lives the gospel, and the lesson on trials from the missionaries and amazing convert Rustam. Anton came to church again yesterday and sat next to yours truly!! Thats me. Haha. Sister Hancock and I have assurred ourselves that we will get to participate in the process of his conversion since he is so amazing, even though he lives in the area of the elders. 

We intend to purchase our very own humble Christmas tree in no time:) Tell no one that the emergency fund is being dipped in to. Anaitt is home, she;s home!!!! She took us out to meet her amazin Armanian friends, who she had purchased gifts for while home in America. It was such a beautiful, choice site to see these amazing beautiful armanian women, here in Russia- connecting with eachother in their native tongue, laughing over the things they all knew and identified with, over tea, chocoalte, and mandarin oranges. I was so grateful to behold that site in this corner of the world.

I cant not hung a happy Christmas tune, everywhere I go. Sister Hancock and I sometimes feel like we are on the survival edition of Mission Extreme, the worlds next needed reality show--as we run up Mount Everest every sunday night in our coats and snow boots, sweating and dodging men and the flames alongside the snow covered earth in order to be obedient. Hahahah, and laugh so hard just picturing it.

LOVE YOU ALL!! Share this amazing gospel!!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, December 9, 2013

Charlie Brown

I remember making our way to the church yesterday in the new-found snow. It's like the twilight zone to be looking at the exact same Russian view I first beheld when I got here a year ago--the cozy gray skies, snow blanket fields--often time slipper slush streets. The air's not too cold, but the snow boots are now requirements for entrance-you wouldn't believe the scoffs and turning up of noses traight out of a film-setting situated in the cruelest of high school microcosms when wearing anything other than top notch winter footgear. Haha

We were near turning the corner, when we saw a humble couple down the road. We greeted them and began to turn to the woman--when I noticed the man's patient countenance and had trouble shiftin gover. He seemed almost taken aback by the uncommon pleasantess from two young foreign girls--and his kind crystal eyes wouldn't break contact, just sweetly observing and attempting to process what was going on. I could spend the whole email elongating on it--but eventually had to turn away from the friendly couple and continue on the journey. I put my hand to my heart before the words, "все возможно тепер" escaped my mouth in to the chilly open air. "Everything is now possible." 

Great week. Exchange with Sister Platt. It's so neat to reunite with her every couple of cycles, and discuss the things we've been learning. We randomly stumbled in to an old potential named Alla. She was seated on a little-mermaid like rock--when she saw us passing, confused my face for her friend's, and called out to us. We approached her and got up to pace with eachother. She had a bad cut above her eyebrow-and she told us she had fallen after drinking vodka, and felt pretty ashamed. We then had a lesson-where she revealed that she wanted to change her life. I knew that her recent doings had humbled her in to finally hearing our message. She invited us back to her apartment that night.
We brought our friend Lioba along- and all made our way in to the living room that wasn't a living room--but a heavenly Kardashian haven of gaudy white furniture rugs and leopard statues. She advised us to not place our satchel bags on the couch--as it was white--but on the floor--as it was less fluorescent white. Hahah. She sat there on her chair, wrapped in her moo moo patterned fluff blanket and we bore testimony of the atonement. She agreed to come to church, and said she needed friends, and change. Definitely an interesting experience. Not as interesting as our next contact with her, but I and my companion are not so sure it has proper place in this email. hahah

Remember the way we would discreetly gather together as many pages as we could during bedtime story portion of babysitting, just enough so the "nodding off" child wouldn't notice, that you might resume other personal agenda pursuits by an average of 2.5603 minutes sooner??? And there's always the kids who have memorized every punctuation point's place from start to finish for the Cat in the Hat--- who then catch you redhanded in the act, before demanding the backtrack if not "start over" to make ammends--and then the sequel in order to teach you a lesson??

Anyway. Yesterday amazing kid Antone showed up to church after we gave him a church tour of the building on thursday--even after telling us he wouldn't be able to make it due to class!!! We saw the rather familiar green puffer jacket, and him, making his non-chalant way in to the building before church. WHATTTTT!!! He sat right in between us during sacrament, stayed all three hours---and got acquainted- our doing-- with fellow 17-year old lovey Liza. Heh heh. He had questions, was the kindest kid you'd ever met, and a total miracle to top off the week!!

Recent Text message exchange with Bogdan. (Pronounced "BogDON")
The snow began to peacefully fall--and I thought I'd let my bud in on the mutual joy
"Look! Through the window!!"
And then Bogdon didn't answer sister clyde. Mid morning fractions must have been his excuse.
I told him about my feelings next time he called to say hello.
Haha. SO- the next snow fall was a little different. I heard my phone beep, and got to it 15 minutes later while walking home.


Thank you, Captain I love you Bogdon Obvious. Hahaha, a smile on my face for sure.

Have a lovely week. Tell me about the first presidency devotional that I so crave each Christmas season!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's that time again....

We were all treated to the festive Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Childers, office couple. Apartment-made missionary dishes and sides aligned the table- the left side have a more weighty significance; то есть, dessert region. Can someone say cinnamon roll cake? Turkey and stuffing disappeared on to elders's plates while I found my apple pie's other half on the plate of conventiently sliced ice cream wedges. Now we're gettin fancy. I joined others at the table while Elder Traitor across the way self-commented but for really all to hear, "let's do this in the right order," foregoing all maincourses as he put a brownie up to his mouth. Hahah. I took a first bite of my dessert. Let's just say I wasn't thankful to whatever person who decided to give the same pale cream yellow tint to Lavell's vanilla (former Creamery worker here) as he already had to freshly churned butter. UghHh!!!! "Hmm, this is possibly the warmest ice cream that's not melting I've every eaten.." my tastebuds observed. Who puts that much wedged-butter on a place next to the dessert table anyway?? Jokes on sister clyde, surrounding laughter communicated. Haha. I'll get the last laugh. Even if it's only in the quiet, bitter email home to my family on P day.

Looked out the window and what did we see?? Enough snow to cancel the next 3 minutes of companion study. FIRST REAL SNOW!!! I told Arizonian companion Sister Hancock of the Salt Brook (and NPHS) (and BYU Grad School) dream come true, should the lifetime chance through the grapevine rumor spread like wildfire through town and society, to any and every child's anticipating ear of the smallest percentage of a chance of any given second of the academic work day being annulled due to "inclement weather." I think they meant possibly the most CLEMENT weather that ever graced the face of this and any other side of the world **except Arizona.** haha, oh the fondest of memories I have and always will of the Acorn drive inhabitants, 14 years of age and under, coming together as a mighty force of snow- sledding comrades and Stick it to the Snowplow champions. 

Evgennia- aladdin narrator with the Sorceror robes, silver teeth, and internal wisdom that could change the world- got up to bear her testimony yesterday. Smiles were adeptly masked. As pressing as the words were, the one thing that made lasting-effect might perhaps be the climactic bow she simultaneously bowed with her grand "AH-MEN." hahah

Women here of all ages pay copious attention to hair maintenance and color experimentation. Something's getting in to the senior ladies, judging by the more daring side of their violot-purple tints. 
So President Schwabb and his wife were just in America, for a minor surgery. They also got to see their youngest daughter go through the temple since she's recently been called on a mission to not-so-far away Estonia!!! How neat. They got back in town on Saturday night. Their absence was kept on the downlow--and it's a good thing Sister Hancock pocket-dialed him on Saturday night, otherwise we wouldn't have had a chance to hear from someone sitting in the Salt Lake Airport on their way here for the whole 18 months!!! 

We finally accepted an invitation to dine with our best friend, another spicy ward grandma--babyshka doesn't to justice-- named Tamara. She's a ward mission leader who can't hear half the things we say until she puts in her hearing aid and it's upgraded to a nice 25 percent. She made us wait and help feed the neighborhood cats, as she told us" people around here do things for other people--and if I'm not here to do this, who's gonna do anything for the animals??" haha, it was indeed sweet as we helped pour the milk and summon the kittens to the kibble. We ate a great meal, and then offered to sing Christmas hymns, in English as a foreign treat. And flop. Haha--looks like lyrics fade fast when not tapped in to with pre-mission frequency. Sister Hancocks and my voices would simultenously taper off in to confused laughter come every third bar of each and every verse for Silent Night and all other season favorites. Gimme that russian hymnbook.

Nikita is for sure, getting baptized on the fourteenth. We finally found the source of the quiet trouble--no, not Nikita. Not even suspected mother Lena, who voiced concerns from time to time--but indeed, the snow-white fair aunt with ebony hair and hushed opinions that when voiced, GO. Hahah, kind of creepy and exciting to stumble in to her icy presence randomly late one night heading home in the dark. But, all is well. We're making desserts, and Anaitt should be back!!!
Amazing exchange we got to do up in Samara this week! Sister Walker is an amazing missionary. Lots of craziness, heading off on the four-plane process of visa renewal in KIEV!! Very exciting--and so great to stumble in to a random man in the airport, who stopped us as we passed and said, "wait-you missionaries??? I wanna be baptized." We all gulped in disbelief, before his Russian face broke in to a smile and we became instant friends, finding out he was a member who'd served his mission in Moscow 8 years prior, now heading home from a business trip to his wife and kids. It's so great to find them, and no matter who they are, become fast and sure friends. We swapped funny stories and experiences about mission life before hopping on our flight back to moscow. 

So call me crazy, but I was back in the JS Doctrine book again. And felt impressed to type the whole section home today. Right now the topic is on apostasy--and how in modern days, anyone who apostasizes usually has an issue or two with church leaders down the road. It was so interesting to read about the men who not only abandoned the faith after finding, erroneously, fault with Joseph Smith, but rose up in anger and rebellion against him and all church members. I've had thoughts before that should I ever choose to go astray--why not do so peacefully, and leave everyone else be?? 
----And then I read this.
Daniel Tyler recounted, "soon after the prophet's arrival in Commerce from Missouri prison, Brother Benhunin and myself made him a visit at his residence. His persectuions were teh topic of conversation. He repeated every false, inconsistent and contraditcotry statement made by apostates, heightened members of the churhc, and outsiders. He also told of how most of the officials who would fain have taken his life when he was arrested, turned in his favor on forming his acquaintance. He laid the burden of teh blame on false brethren.

"When the prophet had ended telling how he had been treated, Brother Benhunin remarked: "If I should leave this Church I would not do as those men have done: I would go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it."
And then, this.
"The great Seer immediately replied: "Brother Benhunin, you don't know what you would do. No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted enlsited to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can g et back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant." 

Reminds of everything I've ever learned about the gospel, everything I have yet to learn and share, and how falling away from the truth would never ever happen. 

I can't believe the good the gospel does, the joy that sharing it brings. Merry Christmas!!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov Still

Hahaha good old title creativity appears to be taking a backseat and fast. 

Every week two worlds collide within our ward building--as both the earlier and later branches intertwine in the midst of their churchblocks. The main hallway morphs in to a perfect bedlam of the newest Saratov Stock exchange--especially for those with badges on. Yesterday, after the lesson of bliss with the investigator of suspense--Nikita- Sister Hancock, Tamara, President, and I spill out in to the mix of Russians intersprinkled with Americans and Armanians. I fall upon the guests of honor--Nikita's mother and aunt, who need ALL immediate attention with regard to scheduling imperative detail for the baptismal service of 10 year old Nikita for SATURDAY!!!! Meanwhile, BTW minor detail--it might help to know that relationships with these two women--Lena and aunt--have been RATHER fragile and on the fence as Nikita has fought and sought for an answer of confirmation---so of course every percent of my attention is on them---when I simultaneously have babushka Tamara Feodorova tugging on my arms in order to get me to a private conversation with the branch president, who I'd JUST BEEN WITH---while other Russian girls scurry past, tossing out birthday clementines, when Liodmila from the other ward demands the contact info switch for her granddaughter referral-grabbing clementines out of my hand, putting her phone up to my ear, as I record the Russian phone number being relayed to me in the phone on my hand. Bogdan is stealing my bag and checking his wristwatch calling "GO HOME!!" in English, molodietz kid. While OTHER liodmilla shoves us it to a corner to say "Cheese" as she snaps the directory photo of the two sister missionaries. 

Post mission sundays will never be the same. 
Run-on paragraphs will never be literarily legal.

Wonderful exchange with Sisters Johnson and Scott in Balikova. Went really well--and ever pleasant to have a personal choeffeur named VAGEEV--haha, the same crazy man who gave us a run for our money just two weeks ago at 2 in the morning. I can't count how many times he turned over his shoulder to me in the backseat to grunt-call "KA-LYDE!!!" in order to get my attention he already had. Hahha, Sister Hancock giggling in the frontseat the whole time. We invited him to our activity but he wanted to sleep instead. Ugh, what a tough work schedule to be a taxi driver night owl. Been thinking a lot about the verse, "Is not life more than meant, and then body than raiment?" when I see this crazy crazy world. Full of those who claim they can't find a spare second for anything. There's so much more to the purpose of our lives than the fast paced demand!! I suppose it will be a grave awakening--when the day of reminiscing dawns on us--to find that the work hours punched can't and won't bring us the same value that relationships with family and Heavenly Father always will. 

I love my mission. Don't have a whole lot of time--we're hopping on a train to Samara in two hours for an exchange and then VISA TRIP, take 2. Hey there Kiev, what's doin. Going to Ukraine to legalize-Sister Hancock, Sigman, Elder Fennemore, other assistants will be there--just before hopping in mission van speed trip back down, just in time for a happy hearty Thanksgiving meal of missionaries at the Childers. How lovely. Praying for pie of the pumpkin assort.

Sister Clyde

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still NOV

Yesterday Vlad, our 17 year old friend we found on the sidewalk, officially became the man by making our lesson and simultaneous dreams come true. Afterwards was our dinner hour that wound up being spent at the branch when we were summoned in by the ward Russian choir for accompaniment reasons. I sat down at the piano and started the intros as instructed by the passionate director with a black moustache. The singers did all they could to conform to the unforgiving margins of the correctly played notes. As most quality directors do, the moustache man continued to voice his spoken praise to the bunch--and even began to put analogies to his directions of encouragement-sort of putting paint on his choral canvas. Way to go man--whose name I still don't know. As I'm focusing on the page, my ear starts to perk up when my mind starts to interpret his russian directions--something along the lines of, "no, no--you musn't sing with human feeling. No more human feeling." Hahah, my eyes definitely pulled up to meet SIster Hancock's as we shared quiet, stifled, mutual laughter. Next thing was the reminder to soften the dynamics with an articulately-put, "SING LIKE BABIES!!! babies."  Rumor has it he's taking after Mack Wilberg.

Wow what a week. Shot up to Samara, fetched Sister Hancock, race back to Saratov--say hi to your new home, but now blow it a kiss goodbye before our now-boarding bus to Penza. Haha. It's been a crazy, great week of making our goals come to pass with help and a couple good old miracles sent from Heavenly Father. We saw some really neat things on the exchange--after a few hours of not seeing much in the cold Penza rain. A man approached us, in the middle of a just-ignited conversation with a woman, insisted on receiving a Book of Mormon, and a follow-up meeting for the next day. Haha, it was so incredible--and even more amazing to see Sister Kiestler then continue with the woman, who happened to know a little English. She bore her testimony in a foreign-to-our-nature-as-missionaries- language, ie our native tongue. The spirit was so profoundly strong, as she said is slowed, simplified english phrases, that she knows the gospel is true. And that this is Christ's church. And that the book in her hands will strengthen her faith in Him, and in God.  I just watched in happy awe, to see how the spirit and all tied things together for what was a needed miracle in this sister's life, as she comes to the end of her time here. 

Some of my favorite smaller things, are the ability to peer out the bus windows on our way to different cities--and finally get a taste of the rich russian landscape. And at all different seasons of life, too. Right now, the golden orange of autumn has waxed old, and now it's woodsie, somewhat eerie birchwood white forests of trees that stretch for miles, or clear tundra green fields against smokey gray skies. It's mesmerizing. Haha, and SIster Hancock and I didn't shy away from the opportunity to hop off and stretch and the 10 minute pit stop. Usually it's fun or deep conversation between us-- but now, just staring out in to the silent scene beyond the winding road around us. Fantastic, 'twas. I'll run through it alone some day.

So Tatyana with the moon eyes--kind of broke our hearts. It's tough, because her husband who is literally approaching the end with cancer, doesn't appreciate her leaving with time constriction. She broke down in tears with us last night in the dark when she peeped out the door to tell us the news and return the Book of Mormon. We listened--it was really the only option--before offering a prayer for her, and reading together Mosiah 24:14. One of my favorite stories of a people who trusted and cherished their relationship with Heavenly Father so much, that they heeded a prophet's encouragement to continue to pray in their hearts to not lose their lives. She cried even more--as the scripture assures in His words, that He visits His people in their afflictions. We'll miss Tatynana, but I have a feeling we'll hear from her again someday. 

I've been reading a lot in the teachings of Joseph Smith doctrine book, and eating up every word. Right now, around the part where the saints worked and sacrificed with enthusiasm to construct the temple in Nauvoo--then the miracle of Zion's camp in an effort to rescue the saints in Missouri. I just keep learning about how members of the church are more and more blessed, as they turn over their lives to God. And how that principle can be applied in all areas and stages of life. I read the quote from Spencer W. Kimball that got here from Nana a week ago in the mail. And I cry every time I read it. Haha. I really really love the gospel, its history, its majesty so much. Today in Matthew--how Christ required the faith of the two blind men before doing what was most likely a simple task to Him. Their, or the fuel to have it be brought to pass.
I love my mission, in short. Walking out of a store this week, a weird kid named Deneese approached SIster Hancock and me. He made the effort to help us with our groceries, after insisting on waiting for us. Not needed, but sure? Then we talked with him outside and he said he'd met elders. And then we said we had to go, based off the spirit- and he insisted on hugs and kisses from us, only to be disappointed. I shook my hand away from his, as we were off in a jiffy to enjoy our dinner. Silly Deneese. Delicious dinner.

Have a great week!!
Sister Clyde

Monday, November 11, 2013


When in a world where business of schedule dictates daily routine task, it becomes commonplace for an individual to develop a specific way of habitually carrying out those tasks. In a lifestyle where disciplined timing is a must, it's no wonder that application and shedding of outdoor winter apparel has been wired down to a science. Wax on, wax off. We're standing in the crowded hallway of the Zavadskoy Branch building, about to enter the chapel, teeming with Russians in anticipation of the Saratov District Conference. The coat racks were loaded, and still without our stuff. Let the routine begin. Hats off, scarves next--pull the middle finger fabric on each glove for swiftest removal, before moving on tot he main course. Now comes the coat- ready for dispatch. My left hand grips the outter cuff of the sleeve to then corecully tug while my left arm quickly glides out from the tug's momentum. But this time, there was a glitch in the system. My fingers gripped the sleeve and pulled, full fource--much to the oblivious dismay of passerby Elder Christensen--who was effectively whacked in the chest by my enthusiastic hand.
Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

Oh, if you only knew the last few crazy days of life. The new cycle had been especially anticipated, what with SIster Young preparing for the departure home and all. The excitement began on Thursday-as the Balikova sisters showed up early for the soon rescheduled exchange we'd be conducting with them, this time on our home turf. Headed off to three days of on and off conference with amazing member of the 70, Randall Bennett, who also came down with President Schwabb and the assistants. Great day of council and learning--and subway sandwiches, yum-- then followed the exchange. ANyway-- inbetween that with previews, reviews, cleaning and tyding the apartment while suitcases laid everywhere-- in addition to welcoming in the Penza sisters to the peanut gang on Saturday night--and anticipating saying bye to my precious companion, and then being head honcho after she was gone to lead the gang on the last night in the area before shooting up to Samara on a train with  them and four elders. Whoo. Tryihng to catch my breath remembering the stress of cleaning and locking up the apartment at 2:00 am while throwing suitcases and duffle bags in to a jammed elevator in addition to our three persons. Sight and sound only enhancing the pleasure of the experience. Hahah. 

So exchanges went very well. It was our last one of the cycle with Balikova sisters. They came--and we did a preview, outlining some area of work we'd like to work on in general--be it finding, transport contacting, knocking--or teaching on the street---and then an attribute we'll be workign on, like focus, or charity, that we can learn fromt eh sister we'll be paired with. Last of all, we each set a numerical goal we'd like to see for the area--number of books of Mormon passed out, lessons with members present, new investigators. And then, reviews are always great for feedback. It was our last one of the cycle-- we've attended the mission leader training councils--which have recently been conducted over skype so we save traveling money and time, which is still fun to get together with zone leaders Elder Hangen, a deep thinker genuis who likes the Boston Red Socks, why I don't know, and then Elder Davydov. I can't explain this Ukrainian in the allotted period of time. Hahah. It's a neat time to dissect the issues and successes currently in the mission-- and offer opinions on matters as we come to conclusions about implementing certain things amongst the missionaries throughout exchanges.Sister Young and I were able to call all of the sisters and give a kind of booster conference phone call as we shared recent experiences about faith, and seeing the fruits of our teaching through blessings from Heavenly Father and baptisms.  

So last day with SIster Young, let me bridge to the most important part. We learned last week that we'd be missing out on the traditional drop off of a secluded, peaceful trainride up to Samara together, to be brought to the office and a grace period of 15 minutes to accept the circumstances and bring all you've experienced together to a fully-closured ending. Instead, she'd be heading back up in the same van as President Schwab with another elder, booking it back to mission headquarters in time for their departing dinner and president interviews. That meant saying goodbye right after the conference ended. But right after the turn off the translated broadcast, the silver-haired District President gets up to the stand to regretfully excuse the fact that President Bennett and Schwab were dismayed to leave early  on their way back to Samara. "What?? They're riding in the same prospective vehicle as my companion in the next half hour--surely that doesn't mean...." when I looked over to my left down the row to see frantic note-scribbling sister young shoot me a look that says, "Now, We're going." In rushed panic I grabbed all my things, and climbed over our investigator and Russians to follow her out, not knowing what's going on. " We scurried in tot he hallway, where all the other leaders and elders were waiting, rolling suitcases. Sister Young and I ran to grab coats, as I heard her add, "I can't believe they're making me rush this with you." She then grabbed the 15 notes she'd just penned to investigators and church memebrs-- and hurriedly assigned me to pass them out like no one's business after the conference. I didn't know what to think, and emotions were running fast as I braced myself for parting with her. She stopped talking, we looked at eachother and recognized the moment had come, and then hugged eachother. Tightly. I couldn't keep my tears back as I embraced the sister I've grown so close to over the past four months--helped serve other sisters---and seen so many miracles--and hardships--and laughed, and loved eachother--and now it would all be gone, in a moment. Ugh, I'm cryin again just thinking of it. We whispered to eachother how much we loved eachother, with promises of seeing eachother again some day soon. And then there's little Bogdan, who now has the priesthood and has passed us the sacrament, who comes stumbling out behind us to get in his last word for someone he's loved so much. And I see, in his clossy 12 year old eyes, how much he truly treasures the relationship he has with the missionaries who have taught him. Ugh, this moment. We followed them hurriedly out to the car--and Sister Young looked at me and firmly said, "Olive Garden," affirming our plans to eat at her favorite restaurant after seeing the Saratov Approach together in a a time period soon enough. Before she jumped in the van, the door was shut, and they were off.
I felt so strange walking back in to that building, with sisters who aren't even my companions. I beckoned Bogdan to stay by me, because he's the only one who could help me feel a little ok after feeling so abandoned. Hah, such a surreal feeling it was, even surrounded by hordes of other missionaries and people when we went back in. And now, she's on an airplane home. 

So strange to see the roller coaster of life that a mission puts one through. Strange can probably be interchangeable with a million other adjectives. 90% of them are blessedly good context. Pick one, it'll probably fit. 

This morning at 2 am the taxi man was in perfect time when Sisters Johnson, Sigman, and I jumped out the door with boxes bags and all. He was a chipper older man for so early in the morning, as he helped us load in the heaps of baggage in to his trunk. While manually holding up the trunk lid while he threw other bags in, I noticed something probably not good. "Whoa there, your car--it's like, movin', man..." were my exact thoughts as the taxi began to roll away from us--without anyone in the driver's seat. Hahah, oy vey it's too early for this. I had the shotgun on the way to the train station, and did what I could to make conversation and help him remember his role in the situation--telling him, "eyes on the road," as he inquired repeatedly as to whether we were Americans and insisting on excavating the wedding announcements of his daughters from the stuffed glove compartment. Haha- we got his number, and he made us promise to call him again on Tuesday morning when Sister Hancock and I need a ride home in Saratov.

We got the call. Looks like my buddy and I have some unfinished business together:) Sister Hancock is coming back down with me to Saratov. I can't wait to be there for her first train ride. Haha, she'll be a great addition to Solnechney.

Love you all, have a great week, the gospel means everything to me. 
Sister Clyde

Monday, November 4, 2013


What do two do when making their quiet way home down a vacant Russian neighborhood road---when a russian car pulls a sharp right out of nowhere, windows down, and something so foreign and far from any Motab our spirituals ears have become inclined to expect??

Ie, the far too familiar 'round the world sound of The BG's, "Stayin' Alive." 
Oh ho ho, the battle we fought and lost to immediately start grooving to the disco beat heard the entire way down the dark street. 

Hope life is well! Yesterday we went Chacnee Dome knocking--instead of apartment building. We live in the heart of our city--but just a ten minute walk back, where the earth knows no sophistication, and concrete is a mystery of the future. Dirt roads, rolling hills, real land--and a far off scene of the gray clouded sky that fools me in to thinking I'm approaching the Californian coast. 
The internet man just place Sunbeam Seven teacher and asked all of the gaming russian preteens to be quieter. But now the wayward boys are announcing their scores across the room again. If I didn't have a name badge, I'd take them out and teach them about a little pastime we like to call baseball to help them make more of their lives. haha 

Continuing--I can't get enough of the scenes. The old wooden, and rarely brick houses that line the streets, and seem all to colonial to have something as modern as doorbell posted on the fence. Often the Russian houses are painted bright, fantastic colors like reds, greens, blues--and throw in the splashes of bright yellow and orange leaves from the surrounding bushes and trees, as well as teh holly berry bunches every now and then, and you have a very content Sister Clyde. I feel like I'm in the middle of Fiddler on the Roof, or Indiana where "A Christmas Story" takes places, with the exact same 40's like circumstances of Ralphie's and Randy's world. 

It is with highest hopes that you one day have the chance to understand and know татьяна или мои любимы слушательница. Tatyana. She's a mixture of Rose Filoramo's rendition of Adelaide, and still Aunt Rinda. Yesterday we were giving wonderful new Nina a small tour of the church before sacrament meeting started-when out of nowhere pops member Aleckzandra and her--in an elegant wig, flashy bebop glasses, bright red lips, and a leopard print scarf against her cashmere white turtleneck. We showed her the paintings of Christ ont eh walls, explaining that we don't have/worship through icons like all Provoslavnees do; basically spiritual trinkets in picture form of Saints which they use to pray to God. She stopped all chatting to just take them in with her wide eyes and cutest sense of reverance.

Next in the chapel, people quietly filed in while we explained to her sacrament details. She looked at me with her wide moon eyes and whispered that she couldnt' take the sacrament, not having been batpized-then leaned in to whisper so innocently, "I even smoked this morning. And had coffee." Haha, she doesn't even know about the Word of Wisdom, and I could've hugged her right then. We encouraged her to take it if she felt comfortable. 
The prayer on the bread was offered, and we were eventually served. I knew she would do as I do (follow follow me) after I took a piece. Eager to see her reaction after eating, but well aware the 90 degree angle headturn from an 8 inch distance would be socially frowned upon, I stared down at my lap. A few seconds later, my periferol catches her ruffling through her bag to pull out a hankerchief. I then hear sniffling, and look over to find tears streaming down Tatyana's cheeks. It was the sweetest experience that made me reflect more on how spiritual an ordinance it really is. She told me that she had wanted to take the sacrament her entire life, but had always been told my priests that she wasn't worthy. She told Sister Young that there had been a "rock" in her heart--that disappeared when she got to participate. Haha, how great.

Everyone is still surprised when finding out where we're from. Ha, I'll never forget the shock as we seemingly "graced" a 16 year old girl with a hug, as she fanned her face in jaw-dropped awe to have physical contact with AMERICANS. You think she'd just seen One Direction.

For dinner, Sister Young adepty skins and dices a variety of vegetables and potatoes. Breakfast is usually rushed cereal and bananas with 2.5% milk-blah-- haha, I've chosen to accept it and promised an instant return to skim someday) before studies--jam and granola or tuna toast equals lunch for me-but we've agreed to BBQ chicken pizza for next to last meal on Friday since Sister Young is going home!!!!!!! SO WEIRD. Halvah is crushed sunflower seed mixed with sugar, a popular treat for russians here. Plenty of beer/chips stores, which we steer clear of:)

Sis Young is leaving, how fast time flies. Lots of funny stories. Like when she accidentally challenged intimidating friend bachelor Anton to pray about the Law of Chastity after successfully closing our Word of Wisdom lesson. (Difference in Russian is minor heh heh) In the same lesson I made the inconvenient mistake of of teasing him, intending to call him "shy/sheepish," but really ended up telling him he was "slimey." Not nicest thing for a chap to hear from a sister missionary. Hahah. But maybe it's a little true, ok? Who knows where that B&W came from. Hahah, no comment.

Love the mission, keep sharing the gospel. Have a great great week
Love ,
Sister Clyde!
Ray roomies dana
Next week I have a new companion weird!! Sis Young is from Sandy Utah, dad!

Olivia and Bogdan

Monday, October 28, 2013


Not much time this week. 
Russian specific noticings. Ahh, my thoughts while writing don't wire as quickly anymore
It is bad luck to shake hands through a doorway--I've had many a handshake turned down and rescheduled--by pulling me IN to the home, by the man head of the house, as I carelessly extend just above the threshhold. Haha, superstition is a real real thing. 
Russian men can be spotted everywhere on the street with a bouquet in hand, soon to be delivered to waiting sweetheart. So sweet to see that they're not ashamed to broadcast it to the world. Not even for big occasions--just to say hello.

So I came to the conclusion long ago- under whitehandbook direction alone--that what happens in Saratov, stays in Saratov. Haha-- one of these days we'll sit around a campfire and collectively know all what really went on during these best 18 months...hahah that being said, I couldn't help but tell of the street encounter as we headed on foot to district meeting. A man named Volodya, formal name Vladimir, decided to accompany us without permission. A nice friendly chap, who had apparently been drinking not water. That is not a typo for hot. After insisting that he stay with us after we'd explained that we're missinoaries and sort of hurrying, I asked him what he occupied his time with. A lot of times it's the occasional "oh you know, work--" with usual career responses like accountant, lawyer, storeworker. Russian declination allows one to throw words around in any order, because grammatified endings will always make the sentence. I was surprised to hear him utter the words "people, and first person conjugated form of the verb, to kill." Heh heh heh.... really Volodya," not buying in based off his happy tone of voice.  And details later when I'm home:) Hooray for cliff hangers and distance??? hahaha, all in all, we made it safely and happily to district meeting!!!

So on to lighter matters, shall we?? There was a wonderful lesson on Saturday with a fun lady, the Russian version of Aunt Rinda. She was so colorful with her stories and descriptions, wide eyes and bebop glasses. She had a lot lot of faith and love for her husband who was recently diagnosed with cancer. We were teaching the first lesson, when her black cat starts giving me a run for my money that I WASN'T PAYING.  Ie, please get off me, no one understands critical points of the Reformation while you are perched upon my shoulder. We're heading back Tuesday and she agreed to read 3 Ne 11. We'll take it!

So the news is out--- Gallia's baptism came to pass!!!! I'll do what I can to desrcibe one the more powerful experiences on my mission. She's had a lot of hardship in her life--being born right in the middle of the ward, and suffering what childhood was like behind the iron curtain. She's been worried about her upcoming surgery, and often has a look of concern on her face. On Thursday night, the eve of her baptismal interview--my companion and I went over the questions so that she'd feel a little more prepared. Thinking question specifics at the end about tithing and things would be where a hold up might pop up, we were surprised to find that Gallia was having serious trouble with number one--that is, her faith in Jesus Christ. 
Sister Young and I both had the impression the following day in companion study to watch Finding Faith in Christ with her, just prior to the interview.She sat there, tuned in to the entire thing--as she had read and studied each of the stories in the bible on her own--nodding, and taking it all in. Elders Brieden and Romney showed up--and we were all careful not to move a muscle, as the spirit permeated the room. The screen went black, and we were all awaiting her response, to find out if precious Gallia's heart was just a little more sure of who our Savior really is. I knew testimony needed to be born. I was seated behind her, and in order to be in front of her face, I hopped off the bed and around to sit up on the stool placed directly in front of her: sometimes teh spirit speaks and manifests itself in urgency. I looked Gallia in the eyes, and said to her that I know, I know---that Jesus Christ is real. That He did everything He said He did and would do. That He is our Savior--and only through Him can we ever hope to return to Heavenly Father. With tear filled eyes, I felt the confirming, mutual witness of the spirit- as she, herself, came to know who He was too.

I'll never forget her smile of joy, as she was brought back up and out of the water on the following Saturday
So much happy indescribably joy to see another come unto Christ and utter the words, "I'm clean! I'm clean..." hahah and she knew it. 

Love you, have a great week 
Sister Clyde

Fun on the Train! Can you spot Olivia?

Monday, October 21, 2013

you're write.

I know I spelt that wrong. I am writing writing to make up for last week!
NaNoWriMo is coming up--so I've naturally dedicated all of November to more than usual pounding out Preach My Gospel in order to celebrate? participate? Haha, just fill out an entry application for me since it's the closest to it I'll get in the field.

Yesterday. We headed out of the stairwell, passed the usual parked cars-oftentimes Volkswagons, and wished good health to the old man in the chimney sweep cap who enjoys the simpler side of life on his wooden bench. Rejoiced the whole way to Lena's, thanking Heavenly Father that sucha  things as a Sabbath morning in October exists. Chilly wind, leaves now graduating from tree to ground, and something magic in the flickering Russian sunshine. 

We were let in to the apartment by a happy random man who was entirely too excited to have two young sisters in living quarters. Haha, and then Lena came out to meet us. But maybe you shoot verbally acquaint yourselves so you can understand. She's about 6 feet tall, with a striking presence in her large-framed build. She has a voice like no other- deep, loud, and somewhat sultry. Is that adjective ok, I don't know. Haha, said hello to us sisters, and before we could return the favor, she took the perfume she was puffing all over herself and began to freely pour it on us. I think we each got 8 sprays and dealt with it. Haha. A small price to pay for a promise kept to attend church!!! After adamently stating she "never would." And then had a mighty change of heart and said "ONCE. ONCE. I want to hear the hymns."


The lesson when it happened, we took our seats around the crowded table, circled by her 9 housecats--number one tool of the adversary when it comes to throwing off the First Vision, by the way. Used to lessons of being verbally swallowed up, she tipped of the discussion with the news that WE "would be doing all the talking today, as "I'm tired from work and here to listen." But events took a turn for the unexpected when I woke up from alleged milliseconds of unconscious to hear her full-fledged mid-sentence onto a passionate subject of work on a court case, pounding the table with the words "BREMYA DEYENGI"--and then laughing to myself as thoughts interpreted and understood her need to remark "TIME IS MONEY." hahah, it's quite funny to here common idioms in a foreign language. Anyway, point of the story---she had COMPLETELY contradicted her opening statement, and all within her opening statement!!!!! 
So, this is the type of woman we're dealing with. 

Found her on the street during exchanges a month ago. She was insistent that we not talk-her grandmother had baptized her, her grandfather was a priest--and her sister happened to be an inactive member. It seemed all downhill from there, until I offered a sidewalk prayer, her heart was changed, and she replied "Tuesday, be at my house at two. We're drinking tea." We've had 4 lessons ever since. (And some of the most opposition I've ever experienced in teaching as a missionary, btw.)

You know the feeling of body surfing, underestimating the velocity and fortitude of the wave you just managed to catch, and soon enough you're being forecully shoved on to the seafloor, all the while aiming to keep the quantity of swallowed-salt water to a minimum?? And then, when you muster the strength to finally stand up and move on, but still unsure of which way's up and which way's down, another tsunami wave comes out of NOWHERE and forcefully KNOCKS YOU DOWN AGAIN, so much so that all hope is officially lost of ever getting out of that fishy situation alive??????? 
Welcome to driving to interrupt and talk over Lena. 

Haha, that paint the picture enough?? But it's been incredible, how the storms and seas seem to suddenly calm, as she defies everything she so heatedly refuses to do, and eventually allows the spirit to not only be carried UNTO, but in to her heart. 
Phew. That's real joy.

The other night SIster Young and I were contacting late, heading home. I noticed a woman swiftly approaching us in the dark, and managed to get her to slow way way down to hear a small sample of the message-- before she made her choice to keep walking. I then said "we wanted to leave with you with..." as my scrounging hand simulatenously seached through my packed coat pocket in search of a church invitation--when chances were suddenly slimmer, adn I had to improvisde with the only thing I could..."a freshly-picked apple." Out, I pulled the huge Granny Smith we'd just been gifted form wonderful member Olga.   Sister Young laughed, the woman smiled, and I don't remember her actually taking it. 

So first things 7th, Gallia has a baptismal date!!!! For October 26th!!! We're so excited and thrilled for her. She has been living with Olga, in her apartment. We've been back, and fed to unbelievable extremes that I feel like I'm in the missionary twilight zone, seeing legend stories manifest themselves at Olga's disposal in her kitchen. Haha, so we've been teaching the lessons at a freqent, hastened rate after getting mission president approval. Gallia went to church years ago--and now has a very hard time walking--but has been reading literature all day everyday about Joseph Smith and early LDS history. And she wants it. 
And she came to church yesterday, will help from othe rmembers who drove her. And it's a miracle. I whispered to our branch president on the stand before the leading the congregational rest hymn (yay favorite hobby) to announce her baptism!!! And he did, and I turned to see Gallia stand up and smile, next to funny firm Olga, who always says "Na Zdorobeyay," Or "Cheers," (but seems more like "Eat your heart out," judging by her tone of voice) when she feeds us. Sister Young and I couldn't contain our joy, after Bogdan had been sustained as an Aaronic Priesthood holder just half an hour earlier. 

I've been realizing more and more, how grateful I am that God is a God of promises. How lucky we are as His children, to know that He has set those forth. Although society has its expectations for the roles parents play, it is not mandatory for one to give to each of his or her children promises of attaining every single incredible blessing, joy, experience, and opportunity he or she has ever had. Heavenly Father HAS. And not just blessings to be reaped in the afterlife--the promises of Him here, now. to assist us, and help us, and love us, and forgive us. Moroni 8:18. Because God is unchanging, He can never help but do everything in His power for fulfill His end of the deal, should we make the effort to pull through on our part. I can't think of anything more reassuring than the fact that those promises will be fulfilled, no matter what kinds of curve balls the world and life may sometimes seem to throw at any of us. That all fairness will be ours through the majesty of Christ's Atonement--a gift thought of and given to us through Christ, and from Heavenly Father himself. 

A mission is such a blessing to see others and learn and humble self. Mmm. Anaitt just left for America to see the birth of her first granddaughter, and made the prettiest necklaces for Sister Young and me as a parting gift.

As for random thoughts, Prince of Egypt is officially number one on the post-mission Babylon hit-list. I'm looking forward to buying some Russian goldfish on our grocery shopping trip in 30 minutes. Our store now is SO much bigger than the one in BEZI. We even use a real-life cart. We buy plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with yogurt bread and cheese. Tuna, jam for my toast-it is the number condiment, and then usually Russian wafer cookies or pretzels. And plenty plenty of cornflakes and mioclii for breakfast!! They don't sell mints, so I have to buy mentos, and eat them like candy, so it's all in vain. Bagging is always stressful, since we're the only ones in the Oblast who buy ALL groceries at one point in time, stuffing up bags and backpacks and giant grocery bag as others check out with their box of Baking soda and a Time Magazine. Haha

I was so excited to hear the conference talk from that Australian, or Islander man--and knew Stew would love the accent. I can't wait to get the journal, as we didn't get to watch any Saturday sessions of conference! 
Bogdan's our buddy, for life. 
Love you all- have a great week-- be good, be great, don't wait.
Sister Clyde