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