Monday, January 27, 2014


Finally starting to understanding the phrase, the "Frozen Chosen." 

Phew, after denied entry into 3 different pink apartment buildings, Sister Hancock, Andrei and I trudged quietly through the neighborhood in to the cozy comfort of January snow. It was like the perfect page of "Goodnight Moon," with nothing but black white and gray, a splash of Valentine pink, and a bowl of mush. We finally found the right address of new Nina. We hit the doorbell--"Girls, I'm watchin' a film"--"just 15 minutes, that's all," before she yielded and pushed the domophone button to open the building door. We walked in to the hallway and began to de-dress, when Nina's admonitions began. She had a 100 (yes, one century) year old mother waiting in the next room, who would most definitely be nagging on Nina for hosting this episode of nonsense. Nina was 65+, you know. You think she'd be allowed to have a playdate by now without being grounded afterwards. Haha, and we had every intention of sharing the lesson we'd come to teach. Somehow in the midst of repeated lament that she was never gonna hear the end of this, Nina consented to let us pray and sing-- the 100 year old mother mumbling the entire time. Just when we though we'd have room for spiritual thought, the plug got pulled and Nina said, "no time for tea? No time for YOU." Well, we would feign call this pow-wow a lesson without doctrine and one more prayer-- so missionary matters called for desperate meaures. Nina agreed to one more prayer by SIster Hancock. We panically folded our arms and I used my native tongue to remind her of the mandatory multi-task at hand--

"DOCTRINE," I called to her from across the room, her surprised, determined eye contact reading "ROGER THAT," as her head bowed and she started in Russian. Hahaha, had to keep my laughing quiet as she wove through Restoration truths to Plan of Salvation principles-wondering whether emphasis on tithing or church auxiliaries would be next. Haha--nothing like perfoming under pressure. Gold medal goes to Sister Hancock.

Speaking of which, someone better be recording every important olympic moment. That includes all events on ice minus curling, add skiing and snowboarding. One day there will be time. maybe. Jane do it. 

So we have felt a stronger bond with the elders, as we've all collectively become a quadruplet pack of parents to the new senior couple. haha, helping the cautious, fantastic Reeds get from point A to point B in their refiner's fire, known as FROSTED WINDOWS on public transport. hahah, how are they EVER going to memorize the bus stops and when to exit when they don't know what the area looks like, let alone how to ask ANYONE Russian for help!!? It's been amusing to share with the elders. Elder Tippetts made a small batch of brownies to distribute to us and them. On Friday he and Elder Wixom shared with us the secret to getting baked goods back in return. "So honestly, you just bake something small and give it to Sister Reed in a large case of tupperware..... and she'll just completely fill it in return."

"So we'll just send on over two or three cookies in a crockpot??" I asked with all sincerity.
hahah the laughing approval said yes. 
Friday night made for some miracle contacting before our lesson with former-investigator Anya. Who, loves men, and has recommitted herself to a March 1st baptism!!! Sister Hancock and I were in the water, not grabbing on to much, when finally the opportune moment came. Paddle, paddle, paddle, RIIIDDDEEEE. We rode that wave all the way down the street- talking and walking with the world's most wonderful couple. An older man and woman-- me in the front with Natalya. We finally got to thoughts of belief, and I asked if she believed in God. "Yes, but here," pointing to her head,  "just not here," pointing to her heart. Then explained the reality of soviet times, being raised with the firm decree that God is not. And then the world being turned upside down and He suddenly was. I told her that that was the first time I'd ever heard anything like that in Russia. We talked about principles in our faith, that she found missing amongst the inconsistent onces in her orthodox one. Really neat.

Amazing lesson with the Reeds and Tatyana, a less-active. Who, usually hardened, allowed her heart to melt by that presence, without a second thought for the language barrier. She cried, as she talked about missing her two dead sons and desire to finish long-lost motivation to finish the temple work. She agreed to come to church. We finally got out of that small wooden house, and headed back in the snowy freezing darkness, and I closed my eyes and prayerfully thanked Heavenly Father for the beauty of this mission, tearfully expressing the purest joy I am allowed to feel on this mission and the richness of these experiences.

We had an amazing zone training on Friday. Sister Hancock and I got to present part of it. We just felt like the missionaries needed to be inspired, reminded. I was able to share a very real personal analogy that I'd love to share with you in person. Raincheck? 
Love you all, have a greaT week,
Sister Clyde

Monday, January 20, 2014


Go, go, go---oh wait? Family photo by the Christmas tree? Ok, make it quick--now we're shifting poses so all present can get their good side? Alright, thanks so much0---what's that, one last shot down the hallway, into the sutdy, and in front of teh giant World Map---neckscratch, hastening, if you insist...quick, point to America and they'll claim the Motherland---"cheese." Now RUN. Don't care if you can't run in the elevator to get home faster---run anyway. Run through the snow, through the ice, through the---

what's THIS??

And yet more pressing...who decided to plant Lake Tahoe in the middle of Saratov.

Suddenly all vested hope of making the bus stop in time vanished in to the frostbitten air as the biggest pond of frozen glacier enveloped our only path---and was only processed as endangered boots had already trudged 3 erroneously deadly steps in to it--a stride and a half = a week and a half in bed with a headcold. Haha, mutual shrieks of fright and thrill as thoughts short-circuited in panic and Sister Clyde went DOWN. (We most definitely DO NOT have time for this). Haha, you're welcome to the world for the comic relief-- and PS, pretty sure we got the ab workout of our lives as we attempted to get up and resume the Arctic marathon the entire way to the finish. 

Don't worry- I'm alive we're alive we're good, it's good.
Wow-- could you believe the magic view of looking out in to the vast Russian midnight purple sky as we crossed the barren, frozen snowy tundra horizon with Makcim to our late night lesson with Alan?? Wow, I haven't seen stars that magnificent in a long long time. And then the far off smoke stack, heaving thick, rich, beautiful puffs in to the portrait of a scene. Mesmerizing. 

Little time left-- but nothing beats the Russian primary program--with a grand total of 3 child participants---and then the ranks improved by 66% increase as sister missionaries were full-blown expected to get up every other 2 minutes to sprint down the chapel and perform in the background to give the child choir some kind of soprano/baritone effect. Just didn't wanna be raining on the youngsters parade or something. Haha- at least it gave us the happy chance to enjoy watching Elder Wixom's hair turn gray as he followed creepy investigator Ralf all over the back half of the chapel, monitoring his behavior when within the same square mile of sister missionaries. hahaha, Sister Hancock and I giggled about that this morning.

Dasha is becoming our friend!!! She is opening up more and more. We had the most successful lesson at their house with funny Cvetlana, her mother, and Grisha-- the wonderful autistic boy who shoots us the flirtiest looks in sacrament meeting--and every other hour of the block. We all sang a hymn around their REAL family piano, I played--and it felt like something out of the perfect Christmas story book. And then we reminded her about baptism yesterday after reading choice verses in Mosiah 18 and then Dasha offering, VOLUNTARILY, answers she received to prayers over the week so that her dad would be protected--just moments before getting in a serious car accident. We were so happy she had opened up. She is starting to feel more like our sister, as we dropped off a note and banana bread for her last week. (Much better with added marshmallows- apparently endorsed with Martha Stewart's stamp of approval) Yum. 

Last night---open up your DOOR, Zinaeeda--cuz here we come-- with 3 men, too. No, not the two last week with whom we watched the Restoration film with at the branch building in order to put off their cake and wine. Hahha, guess that's what we get for busting and bringing in for repair 7 pairs of boots at once. Hhaha, we most certainly AVOIDED the wine. But anyway- this lesson with Borees and Nikolia was incredbile. WOw-- and the theme was thrown out on the spiritual fly as I welcomed everyone to the meeting, and then the words- prayer and answerers to it spilled out. Haha-- and the spirit was so so so so so so strong-- as Boris understood. UNDERSTOOD!!! Jarom 1:4, D&C 88:63, Luke 18:1-- all amazing things to read if you are thinking about the quality of your prayers as of late. Learning more and more about that with each passing day.

Yesterday poor little Valentina looked up in confusion, as an unexpected winter coat crashed on to her from the lofty coatrack-- hahaha, I look over my shoulder to find her requesting that | assist her in restoring it to its proper place---on the hook, as opposed to her slumped, 80 year old back, neck, and head. Hahaha, smiling the whole time.

BAPTISM ON SATURDAY, and ANTON drove us, and I prayed 3 times that we would LIVE!!! hahaha, and we made it-- felt like trying to stop a wedding. There's another one this week and he wants to COME. And he told me-- in an awkward, sweet, clearly misunderstood way, that he'd been wanting Sister Clyde to baptize him. 
----We've got priesthood origin work to do. Hahaha. 
Have a great week!! The new senior couple is here, from Hurricane UT!! We've all been helphing them move and get settled in to their new foreign world! They are the REEDS, and they are doing great.
Sister CLYde

Monday, January 13, 2014

Old New Year

Maybe it might help to paint the picture of a few characters to be encountered on the path of a Saratov missionary. 
After passing the aparment dumpsters and peering out on to Prospect Ctroitelli, it's not uncommon to find little Larissa, busy about her sidewalk sweeping. Always with an orange vest, latex gloves, and a whimsical mood equivilent to Amy Adams's "Giselle." Over age 55, Larissa never married and works hard for her living,l never allowing wordly cares to rob her, or those she greets, of teh happy magic to be found in each day. Sometimes I think she might float away when she cheerfully assures us she hasn't time to meet:)

Ever-loyal Andrei, ready to lend a missionary hand-- requires no less than  4 already existing movie characters to do his own justice. Take the eccentircity of "A Series of Misfortunate Events's" Count Oloff, the temping peculiarity of the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter combined--the chilling long-limbed mysertery of Jack from "Nightmare Before Christmas," and confusing splendour or Willy Wonka, right after he slapstick tumbles on to the Chocolate Favorty's red carpet premiere. 

And then, irreplaceable President Yemsove-- with his quiet magic touch to any sacrament meeting he presides at. Little hair on the head, perfectly round glasses, and a sensibly humble voice that could narrarate any documentary worth recommending to someone else. He fell in love with his current happy wife in the temple a year ago-- and still at age 60, has a happy sense of charm left in him as he holds her hand, and winks at the greeting sister missionaries. Haha. Yesterday he bore testimony about how, although many claim across the pulpit, "I love you" to all in the congregation, it would be ever more fitting to say "Brothers and sisters, it seems to me that I love you." And then when in to vivid detail about what it means to truly love a person-- to know him, personally, to an extent--and then, to help him and serve him. He talked about Christ, the love He has for others. And then, at the climactic part of his talk, when the room became more reverent than already 'twas, President Yemsove said, addressing each one of us, "Brothers and Sisters....." and we all waiting--- "it seems, to me, that I love you." 
With beautiful, trusted sincerity in each and every word. Smiles of happy satisfaction spread across the chapel. Haha, a choice moment indeed. 

We are still working with Dasha and Nadya with regard to upcoming baptismal dates. They are younger girls--both 14 and thereof probably perfectly suitable for Philip and Henry. You've got 2 years to learn and understand Russian in time for birthday #16:) It's clear that they are still young and a little fearful of a lifelong commitment. But, we had a wonderful lesson with Dasha on saturday at her house--where she and her funny brother Grisha had arranged, in a heap of a panic, four cups of poured and sugared- tea, along with a small plate of neatly arranged Russian pryianniki cookies. hahah, quite quaint to find it neatly arranged on the table. We simply read from the Book of Mormon, discussed the prinicples in first Nephi, read a verse about baptism-and closed, instead of pressuring her by re-extending the commitment. I think she was pleasantly surprised-- as she looked at my family photo album, and asked for quick help on her English homework. We couldn't help laughign at the rather pessimistic phrases in need of correction, all along the lines of.
1. I don't trust those who lie to me more than once.
2. He avoided caring about those who didn't care for him. 
3. She stopped visiting him after he stole her pocket change.
Hahahah, why the Russian gloom in foreign language learning?? 

Great lesson in the park yesterday-- mind you, freezing!!!! since this here Nikolai still turns down invitations to meet at our prayer house. Well, he brought a friend, names BORIS. Properly pronounced in Russian, Bahreese, sorry to disappoint family. Anyway-- Boris was pretty excited as he listtened to the story of the Restoration, and read the promise in the BOM--before digging in and actually looking up the references!! It was so neat and refreshing as it was clear he trusted in the promise. We hope to meet with him again!!

So my coat nametag busted again. Sister Hancock and I have tried to come up with all the creative alternatives we could muster. Hmm. One of them, her idea-- to duct tape russian coins to the back of the nametag, and continue using the other half of an extra tag magnet, hoping the force might be strong enough through the fabric. Ehh Ehh. We did it in a frenzy right before church, while I held the tape and she arranged the money on the tag. "This is resourceful," she optimistically observed," before Sister Clyde added in similar tone, "This is ree----diculous:)" Hahaha, photos attached. 

Wow, reading today in Matthew 10:28, about how Christ admonishes his apostles to not fear those who might hurt them, causing them physical harm, but he who might cause harm to their body AND soul. It was so clear and interesting, that he warned them of the many tactics and motives of the adversary-- who might so fully, and capably, try to bother, stop, inhibit the Lord's servants. Discouragement, contention between companions--also family, friends, investigators-- temptation to question our testimonies and doubt our faith. It's been interesting to understand more how real the adversary's power can be-- and how noble and more powerful God and the power of His spirit really are. 

Hey!! Keep going with member missionary work!! Make your "game plans" as Elder Nielsen referred to in last General Conference. And DO it!! Thanks for everything, hope you're all safe, happy, and ever-learning.
Sister Clyde

Monday, January 6, 2014


We four sister missionares gathered in the Penza apartment kitchen with bowls of cereal and freshly sliced oranges in hand. Taking the lead on exchanges, I raised the ever-familiar question--who would like to offer the prayer?" --trusting that one of the younger sisters would chime in---silence. Well, might as well take the initiative and save the waiting cornflakes from getting any more soggy. So, I prayed in Russian. Asked for protection on the sisters, the apartment, a few more requests, before a blessing on the food. At the sound of the closing and "amen," a feeling of uneasiness began to seep in, as the reality of a three-person audience was deduced to an embarrassing one. My tired eyes opened to the commonplace of our dark Saratov bedroom, my ears to the humbling laughs of newly awakened companion, probably taken aback by the impromptu 4am prayer. I groaned and humbly asked, "what do the scriptures say about vain repetitions??" before Sis. Hancock laughed and revealed that she had subconsciously, exhaustedly folded her arms in lying position at the sound of it. 

I am so grateful for a mother who encouraged me to be good and attend all youth activities-- even when senioritis and sticking it to the man dominated the twin daughter and world through them. Who drove us to school all those years before we got licenses-- the triple whammy with 2 to the high school and cherry on top Salt Brook excursion.  haha I am so grateful for a dad who  taught and encouraged us once upon an NYC orchestra performance--to close our eyes in order to drink in the music with our ears, void of distraction and fully able to taste the richness of sound. He who also did late-night gymnastic stretches in the living room. Thanks for everything parents.

Last week a woman came hobbling up to us in the park on New Year's Eve. The magic in the air, as this holiday is 100% more anticipated in Russia than Christmas ever will be. Weird, huh?? We just finished up a really neat conversation with a younger cute girl named Aleyona, who decided to linger longer than planned as we talked with her about baptism, and she gave us her number in order to call her. We turned and were thinking about heading back for dinner, when the sound of her passing words, "FREE CHRISTMAS TREES, get 'em while they be hot...." echoed in our ears. Our feet  made the sharp turn in direction towards the spot behind the building that she'd explained. All missionary task went out the window as our dinner hour would now be used for something beyond pressing. 
The new addition leaves the new livingroom count at now an impressive 3. 

I was asked to teach training for district meeting. The Holy Ghost, Spirit, and the role he has has consumed my thoughts as of late. Understanding what he does. John14:26-- and then tapped in to neat thoughts from a talk I heard in RS during the MTC. How we, as missionaries, have this indescribable opportunity to introduce these people to the third member of the Godhead. They may close every written read prayer in teh name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost---by that in no ways guarantees that they understand his literal purpose to testify of the reality of Christ as our Savior-- to bring all things to our remembrance, to confirm answers to prayers--to suffice as the peace as a gift that the Father sends His children, when His Son isn't physically present to do so (John 14:15-27). We talked about Rosemary Wixom's fantastic talk from the 1st presidency devotional-- about John, the little boy who with awe asked the teacher, who had just told the story of Christ's life, "really??? He did that for me???"  We talked of  the little Russian boy Makceem, with his grandmother Anastacia-- who was shown the pictures of the prophets in the Book of Mormon by the two american girls-- before the one of Christ appearing to those in the Americas--- and him quietly commenting "зто хорошо-- зто очень хорошо."  "That is good. That is very very good."  Ugh, how missionary hearts sang as this little 6 year old felt the spirit, unknowingly on the snowy russian street. Talking about how we don't always follow up on our commitment as missionaries to not only aid people in FEELING the spirit, but also RECOGNIZING it.

Anyway, pay attention to the spirit this week-- and what Heavenly Father is trying to tell you.
I love you all, merry merry RUsisan Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Sister Cyde