Monday, July 29

July 29, 2013

Čau, mani draugi,
I hope this email finds everyone happy and well. It won't be super long, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to write. Thanks for the letters I've gotten from everyone. I love getting them and keep the coming. :)
Well, the work here is still slow. We work hard and we are doing our best to focus on our personal, companion, and mission goals in all we do. We learn a lot on a consistent basis. This week we had an exchange that was awesome. I stayed in Imanta with Sister W while Sister N went to Liapaja. I did travel to Liapaja to drop off Sister N and pick up Sister W, but I didn't really get to see much. I had a great day long exchange with Sister W. I learned that I can do more than I think I can do. I was really nervous to be with a missionary who was old as me (transfer wise) and to have to be on our own, but we did fine. :) We taught a lesson to a less active together and it went really well. (he even came to church the next Sunday!) and we talked to people on the bus. I was surprised by how much I can really speak and understand Latvian. I doubt myself sometimes and I really need to stop doing that. :) But the language is coming. I love it! It is beautiful and while it can be a challenge at times I love the challenge! I have learned some great studying habits while I've been out here and I'm so grateful for that.
Here is some information about the few lessons I had this week that I wrote to President Boswell. :) 
"Alise is YSA age. She is 20, and we've been working on getting her to come to Family Night but so far she keeps saying no. The lessons with the Balstaedts was good. She talked for a while right at the beginning before we could get her to stop, and still would interrupt us while teaching to try to teach us something. I don't mind hearing what she has to say, but she says a lot of the same things over and over and she could talk for hours without stopping. We had planned to watch the restoration video and keep the meeting really short, but she went on and on. At one point I stopped her and what she was telling us about Christ. I thanked her for her testimony, and told her as much as we would love to hear all of her testimony we couldn't keep using the Balstaedt's time. I then testified of my own relationship with Christ and how our church teaches that each of us are to have a relationship with Christ and it is personal and that our goal in this life is to help people return to God by coming unto Christ and using His atonement. I testified that we have God who is our father and that Christ is his son and our redeemer. She hadn't really ever separated Christ and God before and that fact that Christ was our brother really through her off and caught her off guard, but she said that she thinks that that could be that Christ is probably her brother. I told her that I would like her to read the Book of Mormon to understand how I have gotten my relationship with Christ and I asked her to start with 3 Nephi 11 and read as much as she could of Christ's ministry on Earth. She said she would. I interested to see where our lessons with her go as she still won't meet with us at the church for lessons and we don't want to keep doing them outside. I also don't feel quite right about doing them at her home. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't feel right. So, I'm not sure where our lesson will be with her this week. We have a meeting set up for Wednesday, but haven't figured out where we will be meeting as she still says that she doesn't want to use the classrooms of our church to meet." (Alise is the person I met with in the picture from Elder Balstaedt)
"We also got one other new investigator this week. She lives in the same building where the other families lived in Bolderaja. (a boony area about 30 minutes by bus from Imanta) Her name is Jana. She has a daughter, and a husband. The husband and their daughters godfather were there for some of the lesson, but they left halfway through. Their latvian wasn't as good and they weren't really participating. We'll try to get the husband involved more next time. But with Jana, she really like the discussion. She has had a lot of questions about what of all these churches could be true and she has been to a lot of them, but doesn't claim any church now. She prayed at the end of the lesson and has a lot of potential. We'll be doing a pass off lesson for the next lesson and passing her off to the Russian sisters in Imanta, because they are all really Russian and it is their first language."
Well, that is all I have time for this week. Sorry that they aren't longer. Send me some questions and I'll tell you more about the work and what you want to know. I can't remember what I have already told you and what you don't know that I assume you know. :) Anyways, much love. Remember the gospel is true. There is a Heavenly Father who loves you and he sent his son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins so we could return to live with God again. Always remember that!
Much love,
Sister Cloward

Monday, July 22

Bad missionary!

One of the castles that we went and saw. It has been rebuilt so people can go tour it, but it looks just like the castle looks that stood there before. They haven't rebuilt the whole thing though. it has been there since the 1400's
One of the castles that she saw that was buried and has since been rediscovered and unburied. There is now a museum in it and you can climb up into the top of the big guard tower. She thinks the castle has been around since the 1300's. A plague came through and killed about 98 percent of the occupents and then it was just forgotten about.

View from the tower

Sarah calls this the Willy Wonka park.

Sister N, Sister P, Sister S, and Sarah at a random park with some keys.

Sister N and Sarah. She really is enjoying her as a companion!

Sarah and Sister N (comp 2)

Sarah wearing the armor. She said the helmet is really heavy.

July 22, 2013

This will have to be shorter. I only have 10 minutes left. :) But this week there will be ton of pictures!°
We went to Sigulda. It is this place about an hour away from Riga. It has ruins of old castles and is a pretty big tourist place, but we loved it! I took so many pictures. It was so great to learn more about the history of latvia. They have such an interesting history. :) So, i hope you like all the pictures. :)
It has been super rainy here this last week. It cooled off and rained almost every day! i love it though! When it rains here is rains!! It is beautiful! It makes for interesting and very wet contacting, but it also means we tend to go knocking more. That is always interesting, but so far I haven't had any crazy experiences yet, except we get yelled at by russian ladies a lot. that is always weird because I know they aren't happy with us, but we have no idea what they are saying so it doesn't do any good. :) Oh well, I don't mind knocking. It just isn't the most effect work.
Here is what I wrote President Boswell about some lessons that we had this week. :)
"One of our potentials in Alise. I met her on the bus, but really she contacted me on the bus. She saw Jesus Christ on my name tag on wanted to tell me all about Christ and her relationship with him. We've had one lesson with her and she talked the whole time, telling us all about her relationship with Jesus Christ. I was amazed by some of the things she said and her great faith, but now she needs some direction to go with that. She didn't want to listen in that lesson and contradicted anything we said, but we have a lesson that we just barely set up with her tonight. She doesn't want to meet at the church or her house and our last lesson was outside, but we knew we couldn't do that again with her because we need a controlled enviroment where she can more easily feel the spirit. So, the Balstaedts (one of the senior couples in our mission) have so graciously allowed us the use of their home tonight and they will be helping us with that lesson. We really just want her to feel the spirit as we watch the restoration video, and then we want her to know that she can use that revelation she already has in her life and find out the truth about what we are teaching her. She believes the Holy Ghost guides her life, but in a very extreme way. She believes that if the Holy Ghost doesn't tell her very clearly to do it and she does something than that is a sin. So, she thinks that if she goes to church and the Holy Ghost didn't tell her directly to do that it is a sin. We hope to help her understand the Holy Ghost's role more fully and help her begin to feel that about the truthfulness of our message. 
We also this week met with a former investigator Girts. It was an interesting lesson. He has changed completely from his description before. He was kind of excited to meet with us because he likes that missionaries like to help people find joy in their lives, but he doesn't believe in Christ as our savior. He says he more believes in Alla, but he respects Christ, but puts him on the same level as Budha and other religious figures. We watched the restoration film and he liked that, and said it is possible that it could have happened, but he is happy with his lifestyle where it is at and doesn't want to change. He also wouldn't make another appointment. He says he respects what we do and thinks that we are great people and maybe he could meet occasionally to talk about what we do, but he doesn't want to meet weekly or monthly really because he isn't interested in changing. We are trying to get him for now coming to Family night and church. We'll see what happens with him.
That is what we have for potential new investigators right now, but we aren't giving up. We have a lot of finding time."
I'm looking foward to our meeting with Alise tonight. It will be interesting!
Also, update about an investigator from Center, Inese. I talk about her a lot because I set such a strong connection to her I want her to accept the gospel so bad. I'm emailing her everyweek in Latvian, which is fun and very interesting! She is so good to help me learn the language! But the update, she finally told the sisters she would read the Book of Mormon!! This is a big step because she loves the Book of Mormon, but she won't ever commit to do anything. She tells us she won't be able to do what we are asking her! I was so excited to hear that she said she would read!!! :D She is so great!! i love Inese!
Well, that is all I have time for. The work moves along. I know this church is true. The work can be hard sometimes and sometimes I get frustrated, mostly with investigators and members, but I love what I'm doing. I know it is the Lord's work and I am happy to be apart of it! ;D I'll try to leave more time to write more next week. Also, to those who have written me letters recently, I've replied, I jsut need to send them. :) They will be send soon.
Much love,
Sister Cloward

Thursday, July 18

Sarah's 1st apartment building. Her companion is by her luggage as they wait for a taxi.

Sarah and her 2nd companion, Sister N

July 15, 2013

Čau mani draugi! (hey my friends)

I hope everyone has enjoyed the last week in their lives and they are enjoying summer. I am definitely enjoying myself in the work and while it can be hard I wouldn't have it be any other way. I love being a missionary and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be entrusted with the Lord's work. :) This is truly His work and he will help us in every way he can. :)

So, crazy news! Remember how I said last week that it was transfer calls, but I wouldn't be changing because I am training. Well, guess again! They mixed some of us sisters up and left the Latvian Elders completely the same!! It was crazy, but cool at the same time. :) So, Sister W and Sister G in Liapaja stayed the same, but the other three companion ships got shuffled. :) Super crazy, but awesome! I am now in Imanta, which is still Riga, but is the other side of the River. :) It is cool and I like the opportunity. I'm serving with Sister N, and she is awesome. She is in the 10th transfer and has two left after this one. She goes home in November. She is from California. She went to school at Southern Virginia University and graduated in history two week before entering the MTC. We get along really well, and I can already tell we are going to have fun this transfer. It will be hard work as they work is challenging right now. We might start out with a lot of contacting to try and find new investigators who are ready, but all will be okay. We have a vision in mind of what we think this area can be after this transfer, and it will take a lot of work to get there, but we are excited to work hard together and make it happen.

Inese, an investigator from Riga, was very sad to see me go, but she told me that the work will continue in Imanta as well. She told me to look forward to the changes and to go and teach those in Imanta as well. She is so cute and wishes us luck on the work we are doing all the time. She told me she would pray for me and the work over here in Imanta. What a sweet lady! I'm going to write her every Monday in Latvian just to see how she is doing and just to support as the friend that I really feel like we are. We are going to be helping each other learn English and Latvian. It will be fun. :)
Today we are going to Sigulda. I'm excited for that. I don't know much about it yet, except that there are castles and it is a cute little town. I guess I'll have more to tell you about it next week along with pictures.
Really quickly before I go. I just want to let you all know that I am so glad to be a missionary and I am grateful for all of your support as I've been over here. I love Latvia, the people, and the language. You are lucky I love all of you too or I would probably never come home. :) But I also hope you know that I know this church is true and that this is Christ's church again on the Earth. The Book of Mormon is a true book and we can get closed to God through that book than through any other book on the planet. I invite everyone reading this to read that book. Truly read and gain/strengthen your testimony of that book. It truly can change your life and bring so much joy and peace into it. Jesus Christ lives. He is our savior, brother, and redeemer. Come unto him. Pray to our Heavenly Father in His name! It is so important! Strive to become like Him. It is the best way to find joy in this life. This is my message to people over here and it is my message to you. Continue to support us missionaries, because we love it and we need it.

Much love and gratitude,
Māsa Klauvarda
aka Sāra

Monday, July 8

July 8, 2013

Hello everyone!
I hope everyone enjoyed the fourth of July. It wasn't really celebrated here except we had zone training and we sung a patriotic hymn which was fun. :)ツ
As far as the work in Latvia. It is slowing down. We only have two investigators who are in Latvia right now and that is hard, but oh well. What do you do? We contacted a lot more this last week and I'm quite tan because of it. We also have had some rough days of being yelled at and rejected but we keep pressing forward knowing we are doing the Lord's work and he is directing it. I'm willing to be persecuted for something that I know is true. And yeah, I've been persecuted since being here. Mostly just yelled at in Russian which doesn't mean much because I have no idea what they are saying. :) We just say "Visu labu" and keep pressing forward. (visu labu means all the best) it is a very polite farewell and it always throws them of guard.
This week is transfer calls and the odds of me being transferred are slim since I am in training, but you never know. I could be transferred next week. i guess we will see.ツ
So, this week in Latvia was the song and dance festival! It is a huge celebration that they have had for forever that they have every four years. I regret that i didn't really get any pictures. We also didn't get to see much of it since we live outside of the main Riga center where all of the festivities were happening. We did get to see a little bit after church yesterday. We were trying to catch a bus but it was crazy! They changed all the bus routes because the parade went down the main street. (the parade was just different dance groups walking and singing down the biggest street in Latvia) We had to walk for about 20 minutes until we were able to get a bus. It wasn't bad walking, and we got to see a lot of dance groups dressed in the traditional clothing. I really want some of these dance groups to come to Idaho for the International Dance Festival. They are talented and there costumes are so fun!! I love it! We'll see what I can do after the mission.ツ
Also this week, on Friday, we got stuck in an awesome rain storm! I have never seen it rain so hard in my life! It only rained for about 20 minutes, but there was about a foot of water on the street in some places! It was crazy and so cool. We had to walk in it for a little bit and then we caught a bus! I also love thunder here! it is so loud and sounds different because there aren't mountains for it to echo off of. It sounds different and honestly I like it better! It is so cool!!
On Saturday, another fun/interesting story. We were contacting. We stopped and talked to this really argumentative man for about 30 minutes. He didn't want to listen and kept talking about how awful America was. We just testified that bad things happen everywhere, but there is a God who loves us and that looks out for us. We left that situation. He didn't want to meet so we didn't give him our number and didn't get his. We didn't think anything would happen there. Well, 15 minutes later we here this guy behind us running and he yells, "Apgadiet!" which means wait. We stopped and it was this man. It was interesting. He wanted to know if there was a way we could learn more. He didn't want to set up an appointment, but we told about when we have church, that we could meet with him and talk abotu these things, and gave him our pamphlet and number. We haven't heard anything yet, but who knows what will happen there.
Also, this past week I have gotten to help two recent converts with family history! I love doing it. All we can do with them for now though is insert the information they already know. There isn't anything online available for them yet, but I loved just doing family history again. I miss it and I definitely will do it the rest of my life.
Here is a quick update from my letter to President Boswell about Inese. I love her a lot. :D "Inese is doing well. She took a Book of Mormon in that lesson with your wife. I'm glad Sister Boswell was able to helped. Inese really liked her testimony. Sadly, she wouldn't commit to read at all this week. She says she is really just too busy and that she can't, but she said she does want to read every time that we meet together. I am glad that she likes to read and enjoys the Book of Mormon, I just wish she could find the desire to read outside of our lessons with her. Our second lesson with her also went really well. We talked about Sabbath day attendance and what it means to keep the sabbath day holy. She liked the discussion, and agreed with what we said about it. We had Gunita  (a member) with us on the lesson and she was great. We invited Inese to come to church this weekend and she said she would really love to and would try to come if she wasn't n the country. Gunita also told her about some upcoming relief society activities they had and swapped numbers with Inese so she could tell her more about the activities. We're hoping to have Gunita on a lesson with us this week as well. Sadly though, the next day after that lesson we texted Inese (we've been sending her english spiritual thoughts in text messages to help her with her English) and she told us that she would be in the country. I prayed that she will be able to come, but as of yet she hasn't. I'm not giving up on her and while she isn't progressing she has a lot of potential and i think she'll start progressing soon."
So, that is all for today. I love you all and miss you greatly. The church is true and the Book of Mormon is true. Cherish, read and truly study that book! I love you a ton! Know that I pray from you!
Mト《a Klauvarda

Saturday, July 6

July 1, 2013

Sveiki Mani Draugi!
Hello world! I'm so glad I get to write you this week and also, I can still send pictures! I was really worried that they would do a way with that, but all is okay. I am allowed to send and recieve pictures through email still. This week has been slower, but still crazy. We teach a lot which is good, because sometime contacting is a waste of time. It takes a long time just to find one person interested in listening to us. It is hard, but important because without finding there is no work, but as was said in the Worldwide Leadership Training, there are better ways to find than tracking and door knocking. I hope everyone has watched the trainging from last weekend. We got to watch it yesterday and I loved it! there was some really good things said! some amazing things said! I agree with everything that was said. Every member a missionary is so important right now. Member referrals are always so much more affective for missionaries than who we find on our own. They are usually more prepared to hear the gospel. Be an example of a good member and look for ways to helps those around you who don't have the gospel in their lives. Pray for them and just be there friends. You'll be guided in how you can help the Lord in his work.
So, thanks to everyone who has been sending me letters! I love them so much. Especially, Nate and Rachael. I loved the picture that Izzy drew me! that was so fun to receiver and I hung it up on the wall next to my desk. I miss that girl a lot! She is a cute one!
So for this week. Things are going well with investigators. I'm going to just paste here what I wrote to my Mission President about my investigators. It is easier than writing it all out again. "With Inese, things are coming along. We had a very powerful lesson last week with her. We were only able to meet with her once last week. Marta helped with that lesson. We had planned to talk about prophets and authority, but as we got into the lesson and I was asking her if she had a chance to read, she had said no. I had a very strong impression to read with her in the lesson that day. So, we read 3 Nephi 17 with her. She really loved it. It brought up several good points about Christ and what he has done for us. We talked about his love. I was blessed with a small miracle in this lesson. I read in 2 Nephi that morning and had read an awesome scripture that I had never noticed before and as we were teaching her that evening it came to mind again. It was 2 Nephi 26:33, that all things that the Lord gives us are for our good. I testified so strongly that I knew that was true. At this point I'm not even sure of everything that I said, but I know the spirit was strong. The Lord was directing that lesson and I know she felt the spirit and she was touched by what was shared in that lesson. I have never been in a lesson that was more directed by the spirit. But really and truly, the spirit is the teacher and I am not. If I do all I can to prepare myself, he will take over and do the teaching." I loved this lesson and I love this woman. I feel such a strong connection to her and I hope she receives the gospel.
Also in my email, a miracle we had this week about our investigator Oskars. He is awesome and is also helping me with my latvian! I love when Latvians do that! "So, a miracle for this last week. We have an investigator Oskars who has been coming to the YSA activities the last few weeks. He came to Agita's baptism as well and really loved it. He was touched by the things that were said. And afterwards, we took the same little van home together as he lives in Purvciems near us. As we were standing there waiting to take this van, he noticed an alcohol bottle in the garbage can. He commented that it was the most popular brand in Riga. But then he said that he doesn't drink alcohol because he knows that it is bad for him and that he gets "fuzzy" when he drinks it. So, he doesn't ever drink it. Then out of the blue he says, "I also know that coffee is bad and I've been trying to drink less, but I think I'm going to stop drinking coffee from now on." We were so amazed! It came out of nowhere and we were so suprised, but also so happy for him. When he was taught the word of wisdom he absolutely refused to live it, and we haven't had the chance to talk about it since. So, the Lord has been softening his heart and he has decided to quit on his own." That was a great experience and a testimony to me that the Lord is fully involved in thiswork. More than I am involved in this work. As you read in that quote, we had a baptism this week in Riga. It wasn't our investigator, but I know that girl pretty well. Her name is Agita and I love her a ton. She was baptized last Thursday and confirmed yesterday! She was just glowing and so excited to finally have found the true church. She has been a member of lots of different churches in her time, but she has finally found the right one and her testimony in strong.
Also, for investigators this week, I will tell you about Andris. Here is what I wrote about him, "We had a great spiritual thought with him about prayer. We had a goal in mind with him to have him pray by the end of the lesson. And he did it! He was so nervous but he really wanted to try. His prayer was simple but it was from his heart and the spirit was so strong. I was so proud of him for doing something I don't think he has every really done before in life." That was a great lesson and a big step for him. Sadly we won't be able to meet with him for a few weeks as he is going on a trip to the country with his family, and also sadly when he gets back we'll be doing a pass off lesson with him becuase he lives in the Elder's area on the other side of the river. :(
One thing I've learned a little bit more about this week is the love Latvians have for nature. Flower stands are everywhere here and it is a very common thing to give people flowers on special occasion. I want to get some picture of the flower stands because they have beautiful and unique flowers here. Maybe go give someone flowers this week and brighten their day. :)
Well, I think that is it for today. I'll do my best to tell more about Riga next week. Just know it is beautiful here. Take some time and study their history. It will help you appreciate the freedoms that we are lucky to have. They have had a rough past and have been so abused and their history is so looked over. They were hit so hard by World War II and most people have no idea. I love the rich history and culture of this area and learning about it is a blast. Enjoy your fourth of July everyone. I know I probably won't be celebrating it, but I'll definitely be thinking all about how grateful I am for the freedoms we have in America.
I love you all
Sister Cloward