Sunday, February 23

The sun sets very early in Latvia in December.

The Hunger Games series in Latvian

Church building in Imanta

First real snow in Latvia in December

December 2, 2013

So, we had a hard week, with low numbers, and a lot of trial of our faith, but we are going to really turn things around this next week! Here is what I wrote to President Boswell, "This last week was rough. We have been diligent in applying all the new things, but it hasn't shown in our work yet. We really are experiencing the trial of our faith, but Sister M and I are not giving up! We are going to work hard and do all that we can to get the work done. We had a very thorough planning session last week, and we are going to change how we are doing the work and really make a difference in this area. Sadly we don't have any investigators that we are meeting right now. We have been working on teaching instead of contacting and just talking to everyone we meet, but we still haven't seen the results of our efforts. This has been a really hard week, but Sister M and I committed to each other while weekly planning that we are going to change this situation.
"We went caroling with the Latvian elders and two of the russian elders this last Saturday, and we really touched a few people. People opened doors who wouldn't usually open it up to missionaries. We are hopefully going to be doing it again this week, and trying to make them turn more into lessons and ask if we can come back again another to share a message about Christ, who we are singing about. We did ask for Who they knew who could also use some music and Christmas cheer in their life and we hope that that can help. It was a fun, and different approach to help people see that this church believes in Christ and we are here to help people learn and come unto him. 
"We have also done some reaching out to members even more this week, and we have several potential new investigators. On member wants to share the gospel with her gym trainer, another with her new boyfriend, another with her friend, I, who is in a wheelchair and received a blessing from Elder Vira, and another (one of the Senkāne) who is going to set up a lesson with her and her friend this week. So, while none of that shows up on our numbers, we are really working to touch people and help bring even more people the gospel.
Thanks for your guidance, and I am sorry that this is so short, but this last week was just rough. We are going to work hard and have a lot of miracles to tell you about next week."

This is a little something from an Elder Bland who served in this mission and went home about three weeks ago. He wrote this to President Boswell, who forwarded it to me. It was so cool to hear that Elder Bland met Grandma Sharon (I'm assuming)! :D It made me cry. It was a tender mercy I really needed. Here is his accounting of it. "Today I went to the temple and I was probably the biggest headache for the temple workers because I wanted to listen to the session in Latvian, and there were a lot of different problems that came because of that, but it was definitely worth it. The reason why I wanted to share this with you is because it is another really small world story....So I was one of three people in the session. I finished it and walked out of the temple to have one of the temple workers that was on the session stop me. She heard that I was listening to it in Latvian and it turns out that her granddaughter is sister cloward, the latvian sister. I had the opportunity to be sister cloward's first district leader so I got to brag about her to her grandma for a second. It really brightened my day, because I got to reflect back on a lot of memories that I had back in Latvia."

Also, of course, this last week was thanksgiving! It was really fun! We went with our district, which is Sister M and I, and two other Elders (Elder M and Elder G) to a senior couples house (the Y) who fed us and treated us really well. It was quite a wonderful and simple thanksgiving, but it was really fun. We played uno for a little bit at the very end, and it made me think of home and how we play lots of games at Thanksgiving. (I heard that didn't happen as much this year....:(..... probably because I wasn't there to make it happen .... ;)...) Well, anyways, this last week has been and up and down roller coaster, but I can tell you one thing, winter is just around the corner!! It has been a lot colder here (still not as cold as Idaho), but we have gotten snow this last week. None has stuck, but it has snowed!! I'll send pictures. :) The Latvians all say that this is a very weird winter and that this is very warm for a Latvia winter. I am okay if it doesn't get much colder, but I do want some snow soon!!!
Well, that is all I have time for! I love you all!!!
Love,
Sister Cloward
After the tragedy of a store roof collapse that killed 52 people in Riga, the people flew the Latvian flag with a black ribbon.

Foggy view from the study room window

They ate a yummy pomegranate.

More flowers in the pattern of the Latvian flag that were placed for Veteran's Day

November 25, 2013

Hello all!
Yes, this week is thanksgiving. I am not sure what thanksgiving day is going to hold for me, but I am looking forward to finding out. There is a possibility of being invited to a senior couple's house, but also maybe just doing something as a district in Imanta. I guess we'll see and I'll write about it next week. So, this week was an interesting week. I wrote about how last week we came off of a spiritual feast with tons of new goals to try. Well, Elder Bennett said as well, that when we try to improve, that there is a trial of our faith. Why? To make us stronger of course. The Lord tests us to make sure we are really going to do what we say we will and when we do, we get blessings and are strengthened. Just sometimes the trial of faith is a week long (or more, we'll see if it continues this week), and then comes the relief and blessings. So, with that preface, here is what I wrote President Boswell about our week this week:

"I am particularly focusing on just being exactly obedient, with really focusing on time use and study habits. I want to be a preach my gospel and missionary handbook missionary, and I know that I am not quite yet what I could be. I am just starting by figuring out the small things that I could be doing better and applying them there. 

"Well, because of the work that Sister M and I have been doing to be able to improve, we know that we are experiencing a trial of our faith. This last week was a lot harder than a lot of weeks on my mission. I know that you can probably see that with our numbers. Our investigator pool has dried up, and we know that we are going to have to be even more diligent to find and refind those people who will be baptized before the end of the year. We know that there are three prepared in this area. We also know we are being challenged to see if we can keep going. I can commit to you that we are not only going to continue working hard, but we are going to keep adding new things to continue becoming better. I know that it could be a challenge, but I look forward to it. 

"So, as far as investigators, we really have lost everyone. We are starting from scratch, but we do have several members in our area who are really trying to share the gospel, so I know something can come from that. We are going to be diligent and really work to get with these members and help them share the gospel. I know that it will be hard, but it will be worth the effort. We also are working on always teaching. Every moment is a teaching moment. 

"So, with Ag, the good news is, she is still meeting with missionaries. Ivi talked to her and after a few days convinced her to meet with missionaries again, but she didn't want to meet with sisters. So, (the zone leaders) are working with her now. I know that they had a lesson with her this past week, so I hope all goes well this next time around. I told them about your suggestions with the family, and I hope that they can take them to heart and really do those things they need to do to bring the family along with Ag."

So, Ag was the investigator who dropped us a week ago, and while it did hurt to hear that she didn't want to meet with us anymore, I know that the Elders will be able to help her, and I am simply excited that she will get to take advantage of the gospel and the blessing that are here!

So, there were a lot of other firsts this week that were interesting. First off, there was a big tragedy here in Latvia this last week. On Thursday night (we found out Friday morning), a Maxima here (that is a super market that is common here) collapsed. Well, the roof collapsed. It was no small accident here. It happened here in Riga, in an area called Zolitude, which is actually right next to our area (about a 20 minute walk away). 52 people died. It was really sad, and all of Riga has been in mourning ever since. They have all the latvian flags at half mass, and all the latvians have their flags out with a black ribbon on them. The black ribbon is in respect for those that passed away. So, that was a first that was really hard. Sadly, there was nothing we could do to help. We did offer our help, but the emergency personnel had it under control.

It was also really fun because we had a lot of fog this past week. It was super eery, but I really liked it! Also, today we got our first snow!!! It was awesome!! I just loved it! It didn't stick, but hopefully soon we'll have snow for good! I can't wait!! I am so stoked for it.

Well, i am almost out of time. Here are a few questions. :)

Questions:

-Do you ride mass transportation?  We know you have ridden the train, but we don’t know much about the train.  Tell us about it.  Do you ride the bus around town? Is there a subway?  Do you walk a lot?  Are there taxis and do you ever use them?  Do the Latvians ride bikes much?

---okay so for transportation here, we take public transportation. There are three main types of public transportation. Busses (just a regular big bus), trolley busses (a bus that has to be connected to wires) and trams (which are like a trolley bus, but on tracks, it also has to be connected to wires). Those are the main type of public transport we take. Trains are used to go between city to city as well as they have travel busses that are used. I have taken taxis. We take them when we need to take luggage somewhere (so usually at transfers). Otherwise, we walk everywhere and we walk a TON here. :) i am in really good shape. Latvians do like to ride bikes and they do ride them a lot. 

-How often do you eat out for your midday meal?  For dinner?  Do you go home for those meals most of the time?  How far do you travel from home during the day?  Is it even logistically possible to go home? 

---We eat our own meals at home everyday. We usually just do a big lunch/dinner for time sake and take snacks to eat later. We only eat out on preparation days. We don't travel to far from home on most days, but occasionally we go to center which is 30 minutes away from us with bus. But this week we will be going to Jurmala which is a train ride away. We have a potential investigator out there.

Well, that is all i have time for today. I love you all! Enjoy the holidays this week! Eat lots of turkey, because I might not be getting any, unless i get invited to a senior couple's house or a member's house. So, yeah. :) I love the holidays and we are going to work just as hard and make it incredible!!!
Ar mīlestību un lūgšanām,
Māsa Klauvarda
Another graffiti. Sarah likes that it says, "Writer's Wanted."

Monument with candles in the Latvian flag shape and flowers on the statue. This was on Veteran's day called Lāčpleša diena here in Latvia

November 19, 2013

Čau visiem! (hey to you all!)

I hope you all had a great week, as I know that I had quite the up and down one!!!! So, to quickly explain the title of this email, another transfer has started and I am still in Imanta. I am now training again! :) I am pretty excited about it. Sister M from Provo, Utah is my new trainee, and I am excited to work with her. She is super sweet, but a little shy and I am hoping to help her break out of her shell and open up! I know that I certainly have on my mission. I know family and friends that this may sound crazy, but I am not shy anymore. :) I tell people here that I was once so shy that I couldn't do anything alone and no one believes it! It makes me happy, because that was a weakness I have always wanted to overcome. Sometimes there are still moments when shy Sister Cloward sneak in, but for the most part. I am not shy Sister Cloward anymore. :D

So, this past week was a little crazy and up and down. Sadly, this last week, our most investigator with the most potential to be baptized dropped off this last week. Ag, who I love so much, family decided that they don't want her to meet with us. They didn't forbid her to meet with us, but they are constantly arguing with her about why she would want to meet with us. She had a meeting with us this last Wednesday, and said that she was done, that she couldn't meet with us. I'll admit, it hurt. I cried pretty hard after that lesson with Sister B, but Sister B was strong! She told me that this was right for now. That Ag wasn't gone for good. She loved the people and this church too much to be gone for good and simply, now isn't her time. I know that her time will come and I hope at that time that her family will be able to come with her.

Also, this past week, there was a tremendous up! That was yesterday. The reason why my preparation day was changed to Tuesday is because we had zone conference yesterday. It was a spiritual feast as well, as a little bit of chastisement. Not chastisement from the speaker, because he didn't chastise us, but from the Spirit as we listened to him and realized that as a mission and individually we weren't doing what we need to do to be the Lord's missionaries. We got some new things that we are supposed to be doing so that we can truly become the Lord's servants as well as live the Law of Consecration. The only thing that Lord doesn't have of ours is us. I am committing myself to be fully in the work, to make the Lord's wills and wants mine, and I want nothing, but that which he wants. I know that this will make me into an instrument in the Lord's hands and I will truly be able to help him bring his sheep back into the fold. Here is what I wrote President Boswell about this last week:
 
"So, I really did learn a ton from Elder Bennett and I am looking forward to becoming a more exceptional missionary. I really want to apply teaching on every transport and asking for someone every person knows who could use the gospel. I know that this will improve the work. In what ways, I'm not sure, but I know that the Lord will bless us as we work to become better. I also know that Satan is just waiting there to keep me from succeeding and I set another goal to smile in the trial of my faith. I am not going to let Satan get me down. I know he is going to try, but I won't let it happen and I will win the fight with him. 

"I am also very grateful for the opportunity to be with Sister M. I know it is a wonderful privilege to be able to train and I am grateful for the opportunity to do it again. I loved it last time, and I know I will love it this time. I already love Sister M and look forward to our time serving together. She has great faith, and I am grateful for what you told us at the training meeting because I had her help us pick some transfer goals and things to focus on. I told her that we were both expected to help one person into baptism by the end of the year, and that we are in this together to be able to do this. I thought of a number that we could get, but hadn't said it yet, and asked her how many baptism the Lord was going to help us get in this area in this transfer. She thought about it and said 3. I was thinking that same thing. I thought about it later and realized that that was my personal goal that I set with you. I at first was thinking and thought this area hasn't yielded that in a while. She doesn't know that, but I do. I wasn't sure if this area has ever yielded that many in such a short amount of time, but it has. Last year they had about 4 at this time. I know because all four of them just went off of retention lessons. So, I am committing to you as well as the Lord, that we are going to apply the new things Elder Bennett taught and we are going to work on 3 baptisms in this area in this transfer. I am so excited to get to work and to work hard!"

So, yeah. Also, this week was a week of holidays, with the big celebration being yesterday. Yesterday was Latvians independance day, and it was a big holiday. There were little celebrations going on everywhere! It was amazing! I wish I could send the pictures home, but sadly I can, but I do know that when I come back to Latvia some day to visit, I am coming back the week of the 11 to the 18th, because there were a lot of fun events going on. I heard there were even fireworks over the Daugava river! Overall, this is a great place to be and I love Latvia! What an amazing opportunity to give a year and a half of my life over in the service of the Lord!

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Ar mīlestību un lūgšanām, (With love and prayers)

Māsa Klauvarda <3

Sunday, February 9

One of her favorite things: Mango Apple juice

Saki graffiti. Sarah isn't sure if this is a political movement, but the graffiti is everywhere and it always says Saki which means "say."

Tomato Basil Soup

November 11, 2013

Sveiki no Imantas (hello from Imanta!):
So, this week was wonderful! It was busy, and full of good activities. Sister B and I worked hard and we did our best to work hard. It was a great week! We had district conference here this week (that is like stake conference). It was great. All of Latvia (russians and latvians) came together in Imanta for the conference. It was really cool, and it was a lot of people! All of the missionaries in Latvia also came together for it. It was fun, and a wonderful spiritual uplifting experience. Sister W and Sister S sang a latvian musical number that was gorgeous. They are both really talented. Overall, it was a very spiritual uplifting Sunday. The conference itself was a pre recorded broadcast from Salt Lake with Elder Nelson, someone from the general relief society board, and two seventies. They do it in English, and before they get it to us, they translate it into Russian and Latvian. It is interesting though because in the room where we are meeting there are people who only understand English, some who only understand Latvian, and some who only understand Russian. So, they play the Latvian translation for everyone (because luckily the majority speak Latvian) and then they had translation headphones for those who only speak Russian or English. It was interesting how that all works out. 
Speaking of translation, I forgot to tell you, but in sacrament meeting each week we have english translation because there are a few people who come each week (some of them senior couples) who only speak English so we translate into a little mic that goes to head phones they wear and can listen to. :) It is cool. Well, six weeks ago, I did the translation!! It was so much fun! I did it with Elder W from my MTC group and the two of us together translated back and forth. It was really fun and quite the brain work out, but it was good. It was also awesome because we had a lot of people using translation that week because President and Sister Boswell were there as well as almost of the senior couples. 
So, to describe the title of the email. This week starting today and ending on the 18th is a holiday week. They still have school, but throughout the week they will be doing different things to celebrate the holidays. Because today is Veteran's day ( i can't remember what they call it here). and then the 18th is Latvia's independence day!! It is a great holiday for them. This is a big week, so, that is why my title is Holidays, because all of Latvia is decked out in the holiday spirit. There are a lot of Latvian flags hanging everywhere! I will try to get some pictures and send them to you!
So here is my weekly update to President Boswell this week, enjoy!:
"Well, this week was a great week! Sister B again set some high goals with people in mind for them. We really wanted mostly to get 8 lessons this week. We knew that the weeks where we stretch ourselves with the other lessons goal we get way more success than when we don't. Why? In my opinion, because we know it will take every moment and opportunity and the Lord's help to get that goal so we work harder on it throughout the week. We almost didn't get our 8 lesson goal though, but the Lord knew we wanted it, and that we had work hard for it. Sunday night, in a short 2 hour contacting session, we got it! There were lots of miracles and tender mercies involved. First off, we decided to change out contacting time to right after lunch and do our studies at the end of the day instead of right then. We felt it was right so we did it. Just five minutes after leaving the apartment we ran into Ag (a different Ag). I had been telling Sister B that there was someone near the Rimi next to our house for several days now, but we hadn't found them yet. Well, Ag is that person!!! We ran into her just after leaving our apartment and she told us that she had been wanting to speak to someone from our church for a while and that she had questions for us. She said she had run into Elders before, but didn't really want to talk to them because they were so unapproachable she said. :) She walked with us for an hour and we talk her a lot! We taught the whole restoration, a little law of chastity (she had a question and we gave our view), obedience to commandments, and faith (especially that we can only understand if a principle is true if we live it). It was a great lesson and she had great questions! She took a Book of Mormon, commited to read, and also said that she most definitely will pray about it! She is awesome and so excited to find out if this is true! She is really busy right now, but she said that we could meet on Sundays. :)
"Well, our other Ag is doing very well. Her parents told her last week that they don't want her to meet with us and if she kept meeting with us they would kick her out. She started our lesson on Thursday by saying that this would be our last lesson. Sister B and I didn't address that right away and just kept talking to her about the situation and then started to teach. As the lesson continued on, we asked her thoughts about the Book of Mormon, whether she thought that was the Word of God, and she said yes. :) We asked her general thoughts about the church. She said she didn't see this as a cult and that she just feels drawn to this church. It was so good to hear. After she said that, she said that no, she didn't want to stop meeting with us and that instead we will meet once a week for now. She came to district conference on Sunday as well. I, a new convert, has become her best friend and as a branch missionary has also been doing really well to reach out and make sure that Ag feels welcome and is invited to things. She will be meeting tonight with us before family night and also will be going to family night! :)
"With I and M, I was sick this past week and we haven't been able to visit her again yet. We hope to meet with her again this week. 

"Also, an inactive member, I., came to branch conference. This is the first time she has been to church in a long time! It was wonderful to see her there. She really loved it and said that she missed these spiritual meetings and the spirit that can be felt there. I hope she'll gain a desire to feel that more and want to start coming to church again.

"Well, we are focusing this week on getting with them members and really helping them start working with the people they told us they want to share the gospel with. We hope to help them see that if they act, they will be able to share the gospel."

Questions this week:
What is your favorite topic to teach? -I really love teaching the restoration because it holds so much power! The spirit is always so strong when you tell someone about Joseph Smith and the fact that God still calls prophets in our days and talks to us!  It is an incredible message!
Do you enjoy teaching english? -I love teaching English! You never learn as much about your own language until you have to learn another one and then teach English in that other language! It is really cool to be able to share these things with people!
Have you eaten anything very strange yet? (Honeycomb seems pretty strange, how do eat that?) -So, I can't think of anything super strange I have eaten. Honeycomb was interesting, but mostly I just ate the honey that drained off of it. That was really good!
Is there anything american you miss having? -I miss Hot and Sour soup from Fong's!!! That isn't american, but I miss it. :) i also miss ranch. They don't have it here, and I am a HUGE ranch fan. ;) I also really miss American holidays in general. They just don't really celebrate them the same here. But it is cool to celebrate their holidays with them. :) 

Well, I think that is it for this week. I love you tons and I am so glad that you are all my family and friends and that I know all of you. I hope you know I know with all my heart that Christ is our savior. He loves us. He truly "has borne our sorrow and carried our griefs." (Mosiah 14:4 i think?) He knows how to help us and through him we can receive relief from our pains and hardships. He can give us strength to endure and help us with whatever we need. We just need to turn to him and try to do that which he has asked us to do. I love you all, and invite you to turn to him and take advantage of the atoning sacrifice he gave.
Love from Latvija!
Sister Cloward
Another old castle. (We don't have nearly the history here that they have in Latvia)

Beautiful fall colors
Books with the records kept of contacts made in her new, extra large area. Two cell phones as well!

November 4, 2013

Happy Halloween!
I know it is a few days past, but I wanted to say it, because I didn't really get to say it here. Halloween is not celebrated in Latvia really. The younger generation is kind of starting it, but not really. I feel like maybe in 10 years, it will be a bigger thing, but it is definitely a holiday that they are trying to pick up because we celebrate it in America. Maybe eventually it will be big. But I for sure missed Halloween, which really surprised me. Mostly I just missed all the fun traditions our family has and the great things we get to do to celebrate the holiday together. We had English class that night so we taught them about American holidays. They really liked it and it was fun to talk about the traditions that I love so much! We then shared a spiritual thought about families and how they are so important. I am so grateful I have my family and can testify to people how important families are.
So here is the gist of my week as i wrote it to President Boswell. It is so much easier than writing it twice. :)
"This week we have really been working on getting with members and starting them thinking about people in their lives. The one who really has jumped on board is D (a recent convert Latvian who found the church and was baptized in Utah). She was baptized this summer in Utah, and is in our area. We did a lesson about missionary work and followed your lesson plan. She gave us three names to think and pray about. We are going to keep using the 30 day program (a program that P. Boswell created to help members and missionaries have things to do together every day to work on sharing the gospel) with her to help her know how to talk to these people about the church. We are really looking forward to her being able to share the gospel with those around her. We have quickly became good friends with here and we are glad that she trusts us and knows that we are here to serve her, and to bring as many people to the gospel as possible. 
"With A, we weren't able to have a lesson with him this week, but we are working to get a lesson with him this week and find out how commited to this he really is. 
"So, with I, we had a great first lesson with her, and we are working on setting up a time this week to meet with her and her husband. She is our highest potential right now for baptism. We are going to work and pray specifically for the miracle we want. We believe a miracle of her and her husband being baptized before the end of the year is very possible and necessary. We know it can happen, and we also know it will only happen with the members. We already have some really good possibilities of people who would make good friends for the little family. 
"This week, other than that, has just been busy as we try to figure out the other half of the river and figure out who we are going to need to be meeting with, and how we can get member work really going in both areas. It is hard, but Sister B and I are really loving the challenge. It is such a great experience and we are grateful that we have each other to do this together. 
"A miracle this week, we were planning our week and talking about members that we should meet with to talk about missionary work, when we both realized that we had forgotten a member who is a recent convert and just got her endowments. We called her up and asked her if we could meet with her and talk about missionary work this week. She said, of course, but also said that she was going to be hanging out with one of her nonmember friends on Saturday and could we meet with him and start teaching him about the gospel!! Of course we can!! We set up a meeting with them! Sadly, the meeting fell through because the friend canceled hanging out, but we are planning to meet with them this week. Our member is ready to give up yet! It was so awesome! The members, especially the recent converts, have tons of people around them who are ready to hear the gospel. We can't forget it!
"One more things, this last week we have had two days in a row where people came up to us and told us we don't have testimonies, that we are just here spreading lies. It was hard to hear, and Sister B and I just did our best not to argue, but to bear our testimony. We told both of these people that we were glad that they had testimonies, and that we aren't here to take anyone's testimony or faith from them, but that we are here to help people. We told them that we are here as volunteers to make peoples lives better and to serve and asked them if we could serve them. They were both really hard situations, and Sister B and I were talking about it afterward, and we know that Satan is working just as hard as we are. He doesn't want us to succeed. We both made a decision together that we were only going to let this experience strengthen our testimonies. We are stronger because of those experiences and we are ready to go and work even harder against Satan this week."
So the above paragraph explains my subject for this email. Sister B came out of it stronger and are ready to go this week and tell everyone about the gospel as we run from appointment to appointment. (We are so busy with two areas!! There are a ton of Less Actives, Members, and Recent Converts we have to meet with from both areas!!!) 
So a good question this week, "So are there missionaries called to your mission to speak Russian?" ANSWER: Yes, we have four languages in my mission, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, and Russian. Latvian, Lithuanian  and Estonian speakers each serve in the respective country, and then Russian speakers serve in any of these countries, but also they can serve in Belarus. The most Russian missionaries are in Latvia which has one of the highest Russian populations in our mission except Belarus. Latvia is 50% Russian and  50% Latvian, with the most of the Russians in Rīga, and even more than that, in Pārdaugava (our side of the river.) Belarus is a rough country to serve in. Only Elders serve there, and they can't wear name tags and can't carry copies of the Book of Mormon. They also can't talk to people first. They can only teach people if they people come up to them first, or if they get a referral from a member. It would be such a different mission. They have to be very careful there, but they actually have a lot of success and the biggest branch in our mission is in Belarus.
So, I'm not sure what else to write about this week. If there is anything in particular you want to hear about please let me know. :) I hope you know that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is the most true book on Earth. It was written for us in this time and it truly is for every single person. I learn so much for me at this time in my life that I need. For example, I was reading 1 Nephi 18 this week, and usually that is just a good story chapter, and it never meant much to me, but this time, it was a missionary chapter. Every verse had some new things that I needed to start applying to my work as a missionary! It was so cool!!! This church is true. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us. Turn to him, and he will bless you in return. 
I love you all!
Sister Cloward

October 28, 2013

Hey everyone! 
So to explain the title. I am no longer with Sister B only in Imanta. As of this week, we are now the only Latvian speaking missionaries in all of Pārdaugava. When looking at a map of Rīga, there is a river that divides it in half. And the whole left side of the River is now mine and Sister B's area. It is two areas combined and it is HUGE. We will have this for two and a half weeks until the end of the transfer. Why? Because the senior couples in the office are gone. One couple went home a week ago, and then the other, the Elder blew out his knee and so they are both going home and no going back. So, they are taking a Senior couple out of Lithuania and putting them in the office with Elder Massy who was our district leader in this area. So, Elder Massy's companion is now in center with another Elder and Sister B and I got gifted a new area. We are really excited for the opportunity, we are just going to be really busy. We are the only Latvian missionaries on this side, so we will be doing exchanges every Tuesday and Thursday to teach English because there are two Latvian classes. So we each will teach them with a Russian sister helping the best they can. :) It will be a great adventure!! 
Here is what I wrote President Boswell this week:
"This week was a much better week. Why? We started talking to everyone. It has made a huge difference! We didn't realize we weren't doing it before, but we talked about how we can turn our finding around and we realized there were times when we were outside that we weren't talking to people. We've been working on it and it has been a huge help. Thank you for the suggestion. 
"So for us this week, we are excited for the responsibility of being the only missionaries in Pārdaugava. We know it will be hard, but we are looking forward to the challenge. Two areas can be a lot of work, but we know the Lord will help us magnify our time as we try to plan effectively. We are definitely looking forward to getting to know more members and teach more investigators. We know that this won't be easy, but it will be worth it. We are going to be busy, but it will be so good. Thanks for the confidence you have bestowed in us. 
"So, for A (bible basher), he has stopped progressing. He did come to church on Sunday, but only stayed for an hour and admitted that he hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon. He said that he isn't going to pray if it is true, because there is no need for that. He reads it looking to disprove it. We are not sure how to help him anymore. We are going to have a lesson with him where we are going to lay out the missionary purpose and the commitments we ask of people to fit in with that purpose. We hope that he will see why we are meeting with us and we want to determine if he is really interested anymore or simply just wants to have discussions about his ideas from the bible.
"So, for our new investigators. We have K. He is young, and in college. He sounded really interested in the Book of Mormon and while we were talking about it we asked him how he felt. He said good. We testified that was the Holy Ghost. He has a real desire to read the Book. He canceled our second appointment though, and we are still working on getting another one set up. We also have invited him to family night and we are hoping he will come. 
"We also talked to a really young boy, Ar and gave him a Book of Mormon. He said he thinks it would be cool if his family hear about the gospel and we set up a second meeting with him. That also fell through, but we do have his address and are planning on maybe dropping by sometime this week and talking to his parents about the gospel. 
"Our third new investigator was I. She is a young mom of two kids who found God in her life about 6 months ago with her husband's help. When she was little she didn't believe and her husband is very believing and has helped her find the truth. We have a second meeting with her on Tuesday, and when we called today to confirm she sounded pretty excited to meet with us. We are really looking forward to that meeting." 
So for questions:
Does the Fall weather bring back memories of Rexburg Falls?  Does Fall there smell like Fall here? Yes, it brings back memories of Rexburg falls, but honestly, I think falls are prettier here! The colors are so much more vibrant! It is absolutely beautiful here in the fall! That is one thing about Latvia. They have very distinct seasons and each season perfectly fits in as it should be. The summers are very green and warm, the fall is cool and colorful, and we'll see how winter and spring hold up, but I've heard nothing, but good! I can't wait!! So, winter hasn't really started yet, but I am not as scared about winter as I was originally. Why? From what Latvians tell me, it sounds the same as what it is in Rexburg. The only difference it sounds like to me, is it will be very dark. When November rolls around it will be very dark around here. That is going to be hard to get used to. 
So, that is all I think I have for this week. I hope you know I know that this church is true. This is the only way to get back to God after this life. It is a great thing to be able to have this guidance that we have. Without the gospel in my life, I know I would be very confused and lost. What an incredible opportunity to know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves and looks after me. I also have an older brother who showed the perfect example to know how to live in this life. If we follow his example we never have to doubt what to do in the life. I hope you all realize what a blessing it is to have the gospel. If you haven't realized that, or don't have the gospel in your life, please look into it. Talk with missionaries and ask them how you can find the joy in your life that can come from the gospel. I promise, they will have the answers. Do everything they ask you to do and the joy will come! I promise because I have seen in my life and in the lives of others I am working with!°
I love you all!!!
Love,
Sister Cloward
Fall 2013

Fall leaves

Beautiful Lutheran church in Sigulda

Castle in Sigulda

View from castle in Sigulda

October 21, 2013

Hello everyone! 
So, this week has been very good! I have loved the work that I get to participate in, and as members of the church, you are now all invited to participate. This work is so important. We need to help all those around us see why this gospel is so important. Our eternal welfare literally depends on it. I am really beginning to feel and understand that this week. We have a work to do. Don't forget it and work hard to share the gospel with others. I love being a missionary! 
Anyways, this last week was good. Really quickly, people have wondered why I don't include names in my email. It is a personal choice based on some regulations given by the church. We have been asked not to send pictures of people over here anymore and as part of that I have decided not to include names. It is just to protect the security of people over here.
So, here is my letter to President B this week: "This last week was a harder week for Sister B and I, for me in particular. We came off a week of really low numbers and that was hard, but we set some goals to really change that, and we just got another week with really low numbers. It hurt a little. I had really thought that our hard work would pay off, but our numbers don't show it. We have other good things that have happened, and after a really great companionship inventory (a time once a week where we talk about that which we did and how we can improve, and how we can strengthen our companionship), Sister B helped me realize that there were a lot of good things that had happened and that there was nothing for me to worry about. The good things we had done just didn't lead to numbers right away, but that we had done work that will become numbers in the future. (it really helped and now we are doing a lot better. I was just in a slump and she really helped me get over it. It was very good and very helpful)
So, those things that we have been doing are first, working with A (our bible investigator). He really is progressing a lot from where he started. He may not be picking a date for baptism yet, but he is reading and we have had a lot of member present lessons with him. He really truly is trying to understand the Book of Mormon, and while as of yet, he sees no need to pray about it specifically (he also hasn't prayed for a testimony of the bible), he does pray before reading and asks for understanding to be given. We are working with him to see that you have to receive a spiritual confirmation about things, and that you can't just trust your mind. I hope he sees that soon. We have decided to just continue teaching and teach as much as we can. We are going to start on Gospel of Christ this week (we already have done baptism and faith a little bit) and really hit on Repentance. Thank you for the scriptures from the Bible about baptism. I think that we will definitely use them. 
So, also this week, M's (a member in the branch here) friend I., came to conference. M wasn't even there, but I. showed up for the Saturday morning session! She seemed to really like it and said that she felt good. I was really happy that Elder Uchtdorf's talk was in that session. He talks about this church and what it means to be a member of this church. At the end he pretty much invites those who are not members to join the church. I didn't get an opportunity to ask about her thoughts about that talk in particular, but I'm hoping this week that we will have an opportunity to talk to her about it. 
As far as the rest of the work in our area, we are really just working hard on getting a hold and meeting with all the active members in our area right now, as well as figure out what is going on with all of the less actives. We have quite a few Less actives or inactives in our area and we want to start forming a good relationship with the church and missionaries again with them. We are starting to keep better track of name days and birthdays of people in the branch and are working on being able to tell the members happy birthday or name day when they have one. We want them to see that we are not scary missionaries and that we are just here to help them. 
Well, I think that is all for this week. Thanks for all that you do for me. You are wonderful and I am so glad that I get to feel your love and support. I really appreciated the interview that I had with you, and Sister B and I talked about it afterwards and we decided that we need to live up to the reputation and missionaries you see in us. We left that District meeting and made some new goals to start and do better."
So, about that interview we had with President B. He took us in one at a time (don't worry all missionaries had an interview), and told us that we are the examples for companionships in this mission. It really surprised and touched us both. He said that we showed a unity that he hasn't ever seen before and that we are really working hard to apply all the princliples of missionary work. It really touched us both, but we left the meeting and turned to each other and said that we are going to live up to the missionaries he sees in us and really become them. He also told me that I am a missionarys' missionary. It was interesting to hear. He said that I exemplify everything that missionaries should be! I was so surprised! I couldn't believe, and I know it isn't completely true, but I am going to do my best to live up to it!
So, to end this, i hope you know that I know this church is true. We got to watch conference this week in Lativan. I really loved it. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear from the prophet and apostles. I was really surprised by how much i actually understood even though I was listening in Latvian. I loved it though! I had several impressions. One, this conference really is for everyone, every language, every country, and EVERY person. It doesn't matter whether you are a member of this church or not, this conference is for you. Watch it and think about what you need to do. To those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, active or not active, you have been issued a direct invitation by Elder Ballard. He has asked all members of the church to find one person to share the gospel with before Christmas. Are you going to take up the invitation? I already had as a mission we picked a personal goal, mine is 3. Are you going to join and find 1 to share the gospel with? 
Love you all! 
Sister Cloward
Fall 2013

Fall 2013

Fall colors! Sarah loves wearing scarves.

October 13, 2013

Hey everyone!
I didn't leave enough time so this will be short. I will probably paste a few things that I wrote to other people in here. Sorry if this is a little crazy and not understandable. Love you all and don't forget that!
So to President Boswell about this last week and the work in my area: "With A (our bible loving investigator), we are planning to have a lesson this week really hitting on prayer and how it isn't just communication with Heavenly Father, but touching how it is also a channel for revelation. We want him to see that he needs to recognize God as the source of where truth comes about knowledge we have. We know that for him, as soon as he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, everything else will fall into place. We talked a lot about choosing a baptismal date last lesson, and he wouldn't pick on. He isn't opposed to baptism, in fact, he said yes, he will be baptized, but he isn't ready to accept a date quite yet. He says he still has things to learn and change before he will be ready for baptism and he can't pick a date until he has more of an idea how long that will take. He is very open to baptism and knows it is important and I also think he is beginning to say that this is the right church for baptism, but we're still going to have to keep working on the date and testimony. He is reading the Book of Mormon though and last we heard had already read 7 chapters." (little side note here: I have been reading the book of Mormon with him where he is at and that is the coolest thing ever!)
"Also, the member missionary work is going in our area. Our most recent convert has been sharing the gospel quite a bit and as she says, she has "master plans". She has shared the family proclamation with a few people and has asked for more and is working on sharing "Finding faith in Christ" with a few others. We have so many awesome resources for missionary work that I don't think the missionaries realize. These tools are an easy and simple ways for the members to start a conversation. Ag. has really seen some success and we think soon we might meet with one of her neighbors who she will be giving a proclamation to.
"Also, another member, M (the wife of the branch president here) has been attending English class and absolutely loves it. Sister B and I are teaching her the basics and it is so fun to challenge our latvian by trying to teach English completely in Latvian. She loved English class so much that she invited a friend! She is attending second level and loves it! She has a private English lesson with the Elders and they gave her a Book of Mormon and she said that she would read it. We are hoping to have a lesson with her and M this week to talk more about the gospel. M also is going to give her a family proclamation with her testimony written on the back and talk to her friend about the gospel and ask her if she wants to find out more about how we can have this kind of family. M's friend's son has also started to attend third level English this week as well! It is the best!" 
So yeah, that is that. I just want to encourage everyone to remember scripture reading! Something that I wish I knew before my mission is how much fun reading and studying the scriptures can be. I sit down at night or for a little bit after lunch to read and the time just flies by! I wish I had known how enjoyable it could be before my mission and taken advantage of it. I had so much more time then and I really could have delved into the scriptures. I am currently reading from the beginning of the Book of Mormon where an investigator is at. It is really cool to read the scriptures as if I were reading them through his eyes. So many new insights that I haven't even considered have come out and it is so cool. I also started reading the New Testament a few weeks ago. I half way through Matthew and I love it! What a great book that is and so many insights we can learn by learning from the most direct source we have about Christ's life and how he lived it. He truly was a perfect example and I am learning things I can apply i my life by reading directly from the record about his life. The Bible and Book of Mormon are true and will help us more than any other books. That I know for a fact.
I love you all! Thanks for your support!
Much love,
Sister Cloward
ps: send some questions so my writing can be more focused. :)