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