Thursday, June 27

Latvian pics

Awesome castle looking tower building in Old Town (an older tourist part of Riga) where we spent last p-day.

Cobblestone streets and little alleyways. I love Old Town!

The freedom monument in Riga.

One of the grave sites (at least that is what I think they are.)

Hot and humid faces!

House of the Black Cats. Not sure what the building really is (probably apartments) but it is famous in a lot of pictures of Riga.

Awesome monument that we ran to this morning that is in the woods by our house.

Traditional Latvian food that I got to eat at a place called Lido. I loved it!
Old building that they are renovating in Old Town. I love the cobblestone streets!

June 24, 2013


Hi everyone! This letter again might be shorter. I wanted to send more pcitures because we found out that after this week they might not allow us to send or receive pictures in our email. :( So, in case that is prohibited I wanted to get a lot of pictures out. :)

This last week has been pretty slow. Nothing big has been happening, but we are still working hard. :) We have a baptism in Riga this week. Her name is Agita. She isn't our investigator, but I love her a ton. She is so stoked to be getting baptized and we will be going to that baptismal service! I'm excited for that. We are working on getting several of our investigators there. I hope it works that we can get them there. It won't be easy, but it wil be worth it. That I know for sure.

So, as for fun things that I've done in this past week. This morning we went on a run out to the woods next to our house to see a monument. I sent a picture of it. It has a plaque in the middle under this tall white statue, and then surrounding it is just a bunch of rocks! It is a monument to remember all the jews that died in that forest. They would ship tons of jews up to Latvia from all over Germany and different concentration camps and then they would shoot them in this forest. There are little burial sights everywhere (or at least that is what they think they are. They are raised areas of dirt with a rock on top. This happened for three years in this forest. It is so sad and you would never know this monument is there. I'm so glad we went and saw it. It was so cool! We walked around all these rocks that represent all the people who died and it is crazy! They did a good job with this monument. I don't think people realize (at least i didn't) how much Latvia and the rest of the Baltic states really were affected by World War 2 and also how many people died just during the different occupation times as Russia and Germany fought over who got to be in charge of the area. We went to the occupation last week on preparation day and learned all about the people that controlled this area and what happened to the people here in Latvia. They were treated awful and tons of people died. It really helps me gain an apprectiation for them and makes me understand why they can be slow to trust people. They don't like to trust strangers.

So, I also went to Old Riga last week which I love! It is so cute and very European. It also is definately a tourist place. But I love it none the less. We went in quite of few of the many churches that are in Old Riga and I loved see the designs and the different painting, but there is one thing I learned for sure. Although our churches are not always very elegant (especially here in Riga where church is on a rented floor of an apartment building) there is a special spirit that our building has that these buildings lack. They may be beautiful and the spirit is there a little bit, it is definately not as much as the spirit that is felt our houses of worship.

Also this past week, on Saturday, we went contacting with the Russian sisters on a small exchange. We had to get permission, but it was a ton of fun. Here is what I wrote President Boswell (mission president) about it. "I enjoyed the conacting with Sister K and Sister C. It was a lot of fun and it was great to be able to speak with everyone. We ran into a few people that I would start a conversation with them in Latvian and they wouldn't know what I was saying so whoever I was with could pick it up, so everyone person we stopped got talked to. Sister P and I weren't able to get any numbers or investigators out of it, but while I was with Sister C she was able to get a number for a Russian man. It was a really great learning experience, and I feel like it was beneficial to our work. Thank you for letting us have this opportunity." The Russian sisters (as in russian speaking sister missionaries) share our area with us so we see them a lot and i love them. :) But anyways, they both said to me and to my companion, you are so fearless! You talk to everyone and don't let anyone walk past without getting contacted. That surprised me so much. I hadn't realized I was doing that I just wanted to talk to the people. This especially surprised me because I have always been so shy and now I'm out talking to people and sharing the gospel with no fear. :) Who knew!

I love you all so much! Got to go!!

Love you!

Sister Cloward

D&C 6:36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Tuesday, June 18

June 18, 2013

Čau! Sveiki!
I hope everyone is doing well! I am! The work is hard and this week was hard, but it is so very rewarding as well! Sorry, there won't be any pictures this week. I forgot my card reader so I won't be able to upload any pictures. :( I'll send a ton next week!
This week was hard because we got canceled on a lot. We had some great plans to commit some investigators to baptism and we really felt that we would be able to do it, but every person we had planned to commit canceled on us and now we can't get a hold of them. We're working hard, and hopefully we will be able to get a hold of them.
Also, we received bad news right before we left the apartment to come email. I told you a little bit about an investigator who was our only progressing investigator. He had MS and we were trying to get permission to get him baptized. He loved the gospel and loved his book of mormon. Well, he had a surgery last week and was healing really well. The surgery was either his apendix or gall bladder we're not sure. Well, this morning we got a call from his cousin, Dzintars, who is a member, (who's family he lives with) and he said that he passed away this morning. I cried pretty hard and still now feel so sad. We really felt like in the next coming weeks we were going to get permission for him to be baptized. His cousin is pretty shook up and I feel awful that this happened, but at the same time. We can now go forward with Dzintars and do the work for him in the temple! I'm so excited for this at least. In a year, Dzintars can go to the temple and do all the work for his cousin! It will be wonderful! I never did get to meet Eriks but I've heard so much good about him. He knew this church was true and knew that the Book of Mormon is true. He will be a missionary in heaven for sure, and I also think he will do what he can to prepare his aunt to hear the gospel and accept it. We will hopefully meet with her in a few months and talk about what happened and share our testimony about where Eriks is right now.
We also have been meeting with this awesome lady that I love! She is from our English class. Oh... i haven't told you about English. We do service every week by teaching an English class. It is great. Most of the people in the class have been coming for a while and really can speak pretty well, but it is still good that they come. Anyways, Inese came to the English class. She had never come before and wanted to do private English lessons. We are okay with doing that but we tell them that we will be sharing a spiritual thought at the end. Well, so far she loves hearing about the church. This is what I wrote to the mission president about her this week, "With Inese, I love her a ton and our lessons have turned from English to more church now. We found out she is russian orthodox and prays a lot. She has a strong belief in prayers and that her prayers can be answered. She doesn't pray to Christ though. She prays to a picture of Mary and to Saint Nicholas. We hope that she will pray in a lesson with us soon. We've been having two meetings a week with her and they are going really well. She loves to help me with my latvian and I'm not allowed to speak in English at all. If I say anything in English she says, "Latvian please" and I have to say it in Latvian the best I can before she will respond. Our last lesson with her we talked about the church the whole time. We taught some of the first lesson. It was really good. Sister p and I pretty much talked in Latvian the whole time and she would ask all of her questions in English and then also she asked what latvian words were in english, like prayer and to pray. I have high hopes for her and we are also hoping to bring her to a baptismal service soon. I think it will be a really good opportunity for her to see. She talked about a Catholic baby baptism that she saw and how interesting she thought it was. I hope that she will also like our baptismal service and feel the spirit there and have a desire to be baptized." Also, she is super sweet and trusts us so much already. She told us that she wants a child so bad. She is about 35 and hasn't been able to have kids. She says that everytime she goes to church she prays for a miracle that she will be able to have a baby. She got emotional about that. It was so sweet that she shared that with us. We testified that prayers are answered and that through Christ we can feel peace about all we go through. Sister P and I are going to talk about the Plan of Salvation with her next time and explain that a little bit and what we believe about the plan of salvation. She is awesome and I love Inese!
We also have a new investigator named Ainars. He is about 50 and is really great so far. Sister P contacted him on the street and those first few days we were here with Sister W. They gave him a book of mormon and got his number and this week we were finally able to get a lesson set up with him. We taught half of the first lessons and he really liked it. He thought it was great, but was a little confused on why we would need prophets if we have the Holy Ghost to give us guidance. It was a really good question and we gave him some possible answers, but also gave him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon that should help to answer those questions. We set up another meeting with him and hopefully we will be able to keep it going with him. He seems really interested, but meeting with him will also be harder because he doesn't live in Riga, he lives in the laukos (the country) and so we can only meet with him when he is in Riga, and I don't know how often that is.
So, yesterday was zone conference and it was wonderful! There were so many amazing things said, and I can't tell them all to you, but I will do my best to share a little bit. I only have a little bit of time left but I want to talk a little bit about the baptism number goal for this year. 153. It comes from the story of Peter and the apostles when they go fishing again after Christ dies, and he comes and tells them to cast their net on the right side and they do and have to many fishes. 153 is how many fish they caught and so, that is where they number was originally read from and everyone has prayed and felt it was right. I also received my own confirmation about it yesterday. President Boswell was talking to us about where he thinks that number came from. He asked us all to think about first where we thought it came from and I thought maybe from God, and that this is the number he knows are here in Latvia, but President Boswell didn't agree. He said that we as a mission picked that number in heaven. We knew we would be serving here and together we got together and picked that number and said we know at the time we are there there will be 153 new people ready to hear this message. I felt so good. I believe that that did happen and that I knew I would come to the Baltic mission and that I picked that number for people that we could find that would be ready to hear the gospel. I know it is our number for this year and that if we exercise great faith and go about doing all that I can do, that I can play my part in getting this number. It won't be easy, and honestly, it will probably be the hardest year in the mission, but that is because satan also knows we can do it and he will do anything to stop us from acheiving that goal!
Also, related to that topic. As I've gone to church and met different members in the past few weeks, I can't help but feel like I know these people. I feel that they are so familiar and that I should know them so well, even though I don't even know some of their names. I know that I knew these people before this life. They were some of my best friends there. They knew I would come and serve among them, and we were so close to each other. It makes me excited to get close to them here and I know that they will be my friends forever and ever after this. I love these people and I love this place. Riga is beautiful and there is a great work here to do! I'm so grateful that the Lord trusts me to be a part of it.
I love you all and I hope that you know that I know this church is true. I know it with all my heart. I have seen so much joy by being a part of this church. I also know that Book of Mormon is the word of God and if we read it we will receive so much guideness, love, and happiness in our lives. Please read it every day and if you have never read it before, read it, because it is from god for us and a way that we will be happy in this life forever! Also, I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to pray to him. Please pray to him and you will feel an outpouring of his love. I love you all as well. Thank you for your support and prayers!
Much love and gratitude,
Māsa Klauvarda aka Sarah

Thursday, June 13

Bedroom in Riga

Study in Riga

Tiny Toilet

Living room in Riga apartment

Sarah and her companion got off the bus a few stops early to contact people and a freak rain storm came up! Wow!

Sunset from the apartment in Riga

Sarah and Sister P

June 10, 2013

Hello all!
This will be short. I''m sorry. I only have about 20 minutes to write it. :( but all is well for me here in Rīga! :) We stay very busy, my companion and I and we work hard! We have about 8 investigators right now and we have 7 inactive or recent converts we are looking after as well as members that we are meeting with each week. We teach a ton!! But I love it! We got three new investigators this week. I told you a little about Madara, but we also have Inese and Sindija. I love them both already. We also will be picking up two other new investigators hopefully this week if they will come to their appointments.
I want to tell everyone this week a little bit more about my mission and the big things that are mission is working on. In the past our mission has been known as a low baptizing mission, but we are changing that this year. President Boswell and all the missionaries in leadership positions met last year to set a goal for baptisms this year. It as a hard meeting and a lot of things were discussed. In the past year this mission had 90 baptism for all four countries, and that was a high number for this mission. Well, after much discussion and some divine revelation, the number was set at 153. That is a big number! So far this year we are double the number of baptisms they had at this point last year. We currently have 49 baptisms and we have a goal for this month of 28. It is so amazing and humbly to be apart of this change and the amazing missionaries here that are doing it. We are all working harder than we ever have before and are working to find those that are ready for baptism. Me and sister P want to have one of our investigators baptized this transfer. We pray every day and hopefully soon we will. We work hard and want so badly that are investigators could see the eternal significance of our message. Elder Nelson was visiting Russia this past week and talked to President Boswell and he said that everybody (meaning the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve) have been wondering what we are doing over here to have such a huge increase in numbers! It is amazing to me! I am humbled to be apart of this!
Well, I still love love Rīga and I love the members of the branch here! They are awesome and while I still can't understand them, I feel their love and just there pure spirits and testimonies! I feel like I know them already. I'm sure I knew these faithful members and some of my investigators before this life. They knew I would be coming to their homeland and talking to them about the gopsel. Something else I love about our mission that president Boswell told us is that we literally are gathering the lost tribes over Israel over here. He said he was in a meeting with a lot of members who had received patriarchal blessing and he said 6 of the 12 tribes of Israel were represented and none were Ephraim or Menassa. They were all rarer ones! What a great work the Lord has entrusted me to do! I love you all and this will be it for now. I'll try to leave more time for writing next week. :( Sorry it isn't longer. Just know the work is hastening. Heavenly Father knows us, each and everyone of us individually, personally, and perfectly!
Know as well that I love you and that I know this church is true. I also know with all my heart that the Book of Mormon is a true book and if we study it and live what it teaches our lives will be blessed exponentially!! I love you all so much!
Ar mīlestību! (With love)
Māsa Klauvarda!

Monday, June 3

Dear Parents,

Your missionaries have all safely arrived in the Baltic Mission.  We are thrilled to have them serve with us.  Don't they look great, all happy and smiling! Monday is preparation day and the day the missionaries email their families.
It is sunny, warm and beautiful in Baltics, a great time of year to begin a mission!

Sister Ballstaedt
Baltic Mission Office

View from her apartment in Riga (1st area)

View from the front of her apartment in Riga (1st area)

Sarah and one of her best friends, Leah Black (Sister Black now!)

June 3, 2013

This letter won't be very long, but I'll do my best to tell you as much as possible.
Hello all! I'm in riga and I love it here already! I'm serving in Riga, the east side, with Sister P. She is from Vernyl, UT and went to BYU for three years before her mission studying History. She wants to be a history professor at some point and get a PHD in history. She has been on her mission for ten months. She has served in Riga for two months and served in Liapaja for six months. She has only served in our current area for two transfers though. Before that she was in Imanta (still Riga, but the other side of the river). She is amazing and has been an incredible trainer so far! I love her and am so grateful for what she has done for me so far. She is so patient, but also pushes me to learn and do hard things. I've done a lot of hard things so far. But honestly I love it! While it could be overwhelming, I won't let it become that way. I'm going to push through and do the work that the Lord put me here to do.
So, to answer questions and tell you more about Riga.We are the only sisters in Riga, but on the other side of the river (imanta) there are two more sisters. Riga is divided in Half by the river and on the riga side there is a latvian and a russian branch. on the imanta side there is only a russian branch right now because they combined the imanta branch with our latvian branch. So, i get to see those Māsas as well. Sister O is in Imanta with Sister N.  I live in an apartment complex that is pretty nice. It is in an apartment building called a dome (at least that is what the missionaries call them). we live on the top of five floors. I love the aparment so far. We have a washer and we dry our clothes on a rack. It is a good situation and works fine for me. Our apartment is really pretty good sized. It would be considered a two bedroom apartment in America. We have a small oven, but no microwave, but I have no complaints. I love the apartment and it fits our needs.
Next questions, what was church like? Honestly a little overwhelming, but wonderful! There are a ton of people to meet and I'm doing my best to get to know them as soon as possible. It is a branch of about 50ish i think. It is small but good. There are a lot of inactive people and also, school is out so a lot of people go to the "country" for the summer.  The branch is done completely in Latvian and they offer translation for the mission president (he knows bits and pieces of all four languages of our mission but he doesn't understand or speak any of it really) so a missionary translates for them. I didn't understand everything, well hardly anything at all, but I understand more than I thought I would and I know that the understanding will come eventually.
The food: Well, we pretty much will always cook for ourselves. First off, becuase if you don't prepare the fruits and vegetables well here you can get sick and if we drink the water before it is filtered we can also get very sick. So, in general we don't really eat with the members. Also, the members are very poor and can't afford to feed us anyways. I love the breakfeast cereal here. Most of it is granola and they have a good variety of kinds. Also, the fruit here is pretty good. I love the apples! So sweet and juicy. The yogurt is good. It is drinkable yogurt and I love it. The milk is different and I haven't tried any plain but so far it hasn't been to bad. I don't know, but so far I like it. We ate at a restaurant that the mission president arranged for us and that was really good. They got some super spicy curry something that I wasn't able to really eat because it had a TON of ginger and I had a reaction to just one bite. Luckily they had some food in the fridge left over from the night before that I heated up and ate. So, that was good. I love the pizza here. It is different and hard to describe, but delicious!
I'm almost out of time. Here are some interesting things I've already learned about Latvians.
1. they love animals. lots of people have dogs as pets. Also, there are tons of stray cats and they feed them so that are well taken care of. The pigeons are also fed and taken car of and they are SO FAT! It is funny to see. Pigeons also aren't scared of people so I can walk right next to them and they don't move.
2. Latvia is hot and humid. It has been ninety the past few days and then it is humid on top of that, so i'm always wet. It is hard to get used to, but I'll do my best. It is supposed to rain a lot this time of year, but so far it hasn't really. We'll see what happens.
3. Latvians don't really talk to strangers. No one says hi to each other on the street and they don't really make eye contact with you. So, it can be pretty hard to contact when walking on the street because you have to stop them and just talk to them, and most times they just keep walking and either ignore you or say "nav laika" which means I don't have time. So, it can be hard.
Quickly, I'll end by talking about our investigators. We have 4 from before I got here and I've only met one of them so far. Only one of those four are progressing investigators so that is sad. He can't get baptized yet because he has MS and his aunt (who he lives with) has say about what he does and has rights over him. So, he has to have her permission to get baptized and we aren't having much luck there yet. He does have permission to go to church so now we are working on getting him a wheelchair.
We hardly ever get time to go contacting because we teach a ton. We have a large area and have a lot of "retention" lesson. So, we teach a lot of the recent converts in our area as well as we teach a lot of inactives. So, that combined with our investigators takes up all of our time.
Well, on Saturday we had a rare three hours of contacting time and we were able to get a new inverstigator. That means you give them a lesson (we gave one to them on the street together) and set up another appointment. So, it is Aiva and Kristine. It is probably a mother and daughter. The mom looks about ~50 and the girl looks to be about 12. We have a lesson with them this week and we are just praying that they come!
Also, we got a new investigator today as well. We don't usually teach on preparation day, but two of the Russian elders got a number for a latvia girl that wanted a book of mormon a long time ago and haven't been able to meet with her for months. Well, finally today they could meet with her, but we needed to come because we will be teaching her from now on because she is a native latvian and she lives in our area. So we met them there. She was 45 minutes late for the lesson but came. The elders stayed for a little bit, but had to leave to meet with someone else. Well, we did most of the lesson in English which was good for me. This investigator, her name is Madara, is so ready to hear the gospel. I'm just going to pray that we can help her see the need to be baptized. I wish I had more time to tell you about her, but I will do that next week.
I'm out of time. I love you and I will tell you all more later! I have so much to tell you all!
Much love,
Māsa Klauvarda
Remember Heavenly Father loves you and that he wants to hear from you. Pray and he will listen. Listen and he will answer you back as well.
Love you all!

Sunday, June 2

Candid shot taken by another missionary. She looks so happy!

Purple day at the MTC

Not sure what she is thinking here!

May 23, 2013

Hello everyone. I'm sorry but I don't think this email will be very long. The time is flying buy and there is SO much to do today!! For those who sent me letters in the past week, I'll do my best to respond to as many as I can today, but you might be getting your next letter from me from Latvia. We are flying out of the MTC Monday morning and I'm so excited! We leave the MTC at 4 in the morning on Monday and we fly out of Salt Lake at 8ish. I'm excited! We are flying to Washington DC, then to Frankfurt Germany, and then to Riga, Latvia. We'll land in Latvia at 1:35 there time on Tuesday the 28th! It is so crazy!
Well, this week has been crazy and there isn't a lot to tell about. Sorry. We've just been so busy that I don't remember a lot of what went on. I do know that this week was incredible though. I loved it! It was a spiritually uplifting week with lots of teaching and sadly, already some goodbyes. One of teachers taught for the last time on Saturday and we had to say goodbye to him. It was so sad! I didn't like it at all, and I hope I see these amazing teachers when I come back, from my mission because they were amazing people! It is likely that as long as they are in Utah we probably will see them because they have a big get together every conference the Friday before conference. So, they get together as many as can from the mission every six months! I thought that was awesome! That makes me so excited! I'm also going to miss the other people in our district since we have three missions represented in our district. I'm not looking forward to saying good bye to them. That will be so bitter sweet!! We are going to do out best to have a district reunion when we all get back from our missions. One of the members of our branch presidency we also had to sang goodbye to this last Tuesday. That was so sad because Brother Parrish and his wife are so dear to me! They both said that they want to be their when we all get back from our missions. She said that she had never worked with a group of missionaries like ours before and she is so excited for when we come back becuase she wants to hear all of our stories. She said that we are the only group so far that she has wanted to see when they get back and to keep in contact with while we are out. That was so sweet of her and it touched me so much. I'm also excited to get together with our district when we get back because we have some pretty incredible missionaries in our group and they are going to do incredible things!
Well, this week we got to hear from Sister Mary Edmunds at our Sunday night devotional. This is our second time being able to hear from her and it was amazing! She is so funny, but also has a great message to share. I'm so excited to got out and serve now because she always gives us such hope to be a missionary and that we can serve an honorable mission well and do incredible things. I'm so excited to be a missionary and go out and bring people unto Christ their savior and just try to help them see the importance of my message. I know though as well, that I am never in this alone! I know that is so true! None of us are ever alone unless we choose to be.
Also, this last Tuesday we heard from Elder Nash and his wife. They both shared so much incredible things with us. Elder Nash spoke with such incredible authority, and I know everything he said was true. He talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of that in our message, but also, the importance of that for us now, and how we need to live the gospel of Jesus Christ daily in our lives. How we apply faith, repentance, baptism, the holy ghost, and enduring to the end in our lives right now. I wish I could share it all with you but there was a ton of information. Just know that I know that this church is true. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants what is best for us in all things. He want to hear from us in prayer. Pray to him and I know he will listen and I know that he will answer if you have faith and are patient. I know that Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior and we can do all things through him. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that He restored the fullness of the gospel on Earth for us know and I know he received and translated the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of mormon is true. I love the book and the joy I feel when i read it. I know that reading it can bring so much joy and so many blessings to our lives!
I'll quickly write my testimony in Latvian (a simplified version):
Es zinu, ka Jēzus Kristus ir mūsu Glābējs. Jēzus Kristus mūs mīl. Viņš mirsta mums, ka mēs varam atgriezties Dievam. Es zinu, ka šī baznīca ir patiesa. Es zinu, ka Džozefs Smits tulkoja Mormona Grāmatu. Es zinu, ka Mormona Grāmata ir patiesa un Dieva vārds. Ez zinu, ka Dievs ir mūsu Tēvs. Es zinu, ka Dievs mūs mil. Dievs grib lai mēs lugtu viņam. Lūdzu, lūdz viņam. Es zinu, ka ja jūs ludzat, jūs jutīsit mieru un viņa mīlestību. Jēzus Kristus vārda, āmen.
I know that Jesus Christ is our savior. Jesus Christ loves us. He died for us that we could return to God. I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and God's word. I know that God is our father. I kno wthat God loves us. God wants us to pray to him. Please, pray to him. I know that if you pray, you will feel peace and his love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all! Have a great week!!
Sister Cloward