Clarice Harrison, a native of Orem, Utah is answering a call to serve the Lord in the Yekaterinburg Russia Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the next 18 months. She will be inviting people in Russia to come unto Christ.

Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January 2011 Working in Perm

2011 Jan 31,

Well this week was an interesting on. We still don't have any progressing investigators, but we have a couple of potential progressing investigators and a baptismal date. Yep a baptismal date. That is our miracle this week. We have tried to do some contacting on the street, which doesn't work that well, and we have been calling people from old contact sheets that we found in the area book. One girl was contacted on the street 2 years ago and Sis Hakes called her and she was interested to meet and she showed up to the meeting on Sunday and she was smiling when we first saw her. (I have to tell you people don't smile on the street or on the bus and they think it is really really weird if you try to talk to them.) So that was a good sign. We took her to the church building and she told us that she had been thinking for the last couple of months that something was missing and so when Sis Hakes called her she thought that this might be it. She was so happy through out the entire lesson and when we testified of Joseph Smith we felt the spirit. At the end Sis Hakes asked her if when she prayed she felt that the Book of Mormon was true and that what we were saying was true would she get baptized. She said yes! How cool is that? I didn't think that actually happened. The only catch is she doesn't live in our area. She lives in the other Sisters area so in the end they will get to teach her. But that doesn't even matter because it was so awesome that we found her! This was a pretty big miracle for us because we have been praying and fasting to know what to do to be able to find people to teach.

Other things that happen this week: We contacted a kid on the street named Stas who was so excited when he found out we were American and that I was from Utah. He said "Salt Lake City" in English and I asked him how he new it and he said "Jazz". Turned out he was a basketball player and really into American basketball. We meet people fairly often (especially younger people) who are really excited when they find out we are from America. We always invite them to English club and hope they come. English club is a lot of fun. This last week we taught the beginners class and we have everyone say one think they liked and one thing they didn't like and why in English. It is always fun when we hit upon a word most people don't know and everyone tries to guess what the word means. We always have a spiritual thought after and this time we talked about Prophets. We showed them the recent Conference Liahona with all the pictures of the Prophet and 12 apostles. It was really good.

I still don't speak Russian very well. I think I can understand more, but when someone tries to talk to me one-on-one I always second guess my self and so if I really did understand I come off like I didn't. A lot of people just revert to whatever English they know with me. One girl I was trying to explain something to and she said (in English) "just say it in English." I really need to practice more. Sis Hakes says I haven't gotten to practice as much because we haven't had very many lessons for me to practice in. Everyone here really likes Obama for some reason. He always comes up at some point if the conversation is in anyway connected to America, or even if it is not. I love you all! Hope everything is going well!


Sister Harrison

Does Perm mean permafrost?

2011 January 24,

Well I am still alive if you are wondering. And I am not that frozen either. It has actually been really warm for winter (-10 to -20 instead of -30s) They keep saying that it is going to get colder though. So this week I have a list of some firsts: First frozen dead dog that I almost stepped on. For some reason it reminded me of Dad. I don't know why. There are a lot of homeless dogs wandering around. They tend to not really bother anyone, but they do spread the trash around. First Bible bashing on the street. I couldn't understand what he was saying, but Sis Hakes said he was Baptist and was trying to explain why the Book of Mormon couldn't possible be scripture because there is no scripture after the Bible. Sis Hakes didn't want to argue, but he kept going on and on about saving us. There are a lot of different religions represented here in Perm. For example we live really close to a Lutheran church. I was led to believe that everyone was Russian Orthodox. I played the piano my First Sunday here and my second and I probably will every Sunday here on out. The Senior Couple serving here is going home this next week so they had a going away fireside and guess who got to play the piano for the entire thing including all the musical numbers? I am really going to miss the Nehrings (senior couple). You can just tell that everyone in the branch absolutely loves them. They have opened doors that regular missionaries could not. They just make everyone feel at home. My first real Russian tea!!!!!! Of course it was herbal. We went to our first meeting with a recent convert family (Grandmother and Daughter). They live in a house in a more neighborhood type place. I was also led to believe that everyone here lived in huge cement apartment buildings also not true. We went and they fed us mashed potatoes and we had real Russian tea. We sweetened it with homemade jam. It was very good. They are very strong recent converts. They were both so nice to us. I just love them! The babooshka's name is Maria and she has only one tooth. She is so cute! The members here are just amazing, and they have to get through so much culture just to become members. Everyone smokes. Everyone drinks. Temptations are everywhere. Contacting is hard because people really don't talk to each other on the bus or on the street. They really aren't into pleasant conversation here, but we really have seen some miracles with talking to people. One kid we talked to on the street randomly said that he had a friend who was a member and that he wanted to find out more about what she believed. Sis Hakes has also been calling a lot of people from the Area book. I tried to help her a couple times, but they couldn't understand what I was saying so she had to take over. Russian is still coming along. I can sort of understand the general gist of what people are talking about at church, but anyone else I really don't. It’s a process. Oh I had to translate for the first time! I had to say you have a very nice family. Sister Nehring asked me to say it to a member. It’s a good thing I know how to say it. Please pray for the members here. They are trying so hard to create Zion in the midst of the world. All I have to say is it is really easy to live in Utah. Also pray for the nonmembers here; pray that their hearts will be softened. I love you all so much!!!


Sister Harrison

First Letter from Russia

2011 Jan 17,

So as you can tell my first area is Perm. Perm is on the western side of the Yekaterinburg Mission. My trainers says it is a more European looking city. I wouldn't know I haven't every been to Europe. It’s fairly big. There are 5 areas and we are right in the middle one. My Trainer's name is Sister Hakes she is from New Mexico. She has trained 3 times before so of course she is amazing. Sis Whiting was also assigned to Perm. Her trainer's name is Sis Hansen. They are serving in a different area and branch than we are, but we went shopping together on Saturday. Okay, let me back up a little. The flight here was soooo long and I didn't sleep at all. I was able to talk to a lady named Joanna on the flight from SLC to Atlanta about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. She has a friend who is Mormon that she promised she would talk about the church. She told me at the very end that if she was not Baptist I would have converted her. Too bad I guess. On the flight from Atlanta to Moscow Sister Whiting and I sat by each other and we talked to a Russian lady who knew perfect English. She had heard of the church before but didn't know much about it. We told her some and she said she would start reading a Book of Mormon she had at home. All we saw of Moscow was the inside of the airport where we sat for several hours before our next flight. When we got to Yekaterinburg we were met by the APs and Pres Alcott. They took us back to the mission home which was in an apartment building because that is all there is here. It is two stories high on the 7th floor and is the nicest apartment I will ever be in here I have been told. We slept there two nights because we had a day of training with the APs and Pres and Sis Alcott. So Friday we were training and then Saturday morning we got up early and were taken to a train station to go to Perm. Saturday morning was the coldest I have experienced so far. I could not feel my nose. The train was a real train! Sis Hakes and I had a coupe to ourselves where we tried to get a little more sleep. I can see that sleep is going to be a precious resource here. When we got to Perm (5 hour train ride) the ZLs met us and put us in a taxi to go to our new apartment. Did I mention that Sis Hakes and I were whitewashed in Perm? Meaning she was serving in Yekaterinburg before and so neither of us know the area or the church members. So we got to our apartment which is on the 6th floor of a big apartment building. We are really lucky because we have a elevator that works. Our apartment has 3 small rooms. Kitchen, bedroom, sitting room. Everything is mini sized to fit into the small space. It’s is a cute apartment because each of the rooms is a different color; purple, pink, and peach. The view of the sun rise in the morning is magnificent from our balcony. Lots of red and orange. That might be because of how polluted the air is. So Saturday afternoon we went shopping with Sis Hanson and Sis Whiting. I bought some boots that are standard black and come to the top of my calves. Apparently I have really ripped calves because the boots are really snug there. They are nice and warm. Sis Hansen gave me the coat she wore last winter because her former companion who when home left her coat for her. It is a nice burgundy color and keeps me warm so I like it. I still need to buy a cute hat or two and some warmer gloves and I should be good. Sunday morning we went to church for the first time. It was a adventure for both of us because Sis Hakes has never served in Perm before. That Sunday 91 people showed up for church. We heard the average is 60-70. Sis Hakes says she has never seen so many people come to church in Russia. We have a beautiful church building here. It looks relatively new and is very clean and nice inside. One of the reasons the branch is so big right now is because of the awesome branch members. Sis Hakes didn't have to do anything because they were so organized. I did get to play the piano and it looks like that will be a regular occurrence. Our branch is so awesome! The brand president is the best. His goal is to have a temple here and to do that there needs to be a stake and so he is working on it. Everyone was so nice they really like to hug here. Sunday night we were back at the church because the Senior Couple here gave a fireside and Sis Hakes translated for them. I played the piano again. Bro and Sis Neering are the couple who have been serving here and its really sad because they are leaving at the end of this month to go home. I could see how they had become an integral part of the ward. The members really love them. Senior missionaries are just great! I am sad that they are leaving soon. Well Russia is really different. Well not to different. It hasn't been that cold yet which is good, but it is suppose to get colder. I am doing well. I know I need to work really hard at learning Russian. I really would like to understand what people are saying soon. I love you all!! I will write again next Monday.


Sister Harrison

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas from the MTC

So I thought I would get right into talking about what happened over Christmas because I am sure you are all dying to know. Christmas Eve we got together as a zone and the Native missionaries talked to us about how they celebrate Christmas and New Years in Russia and Ukraine. They celebrate Christmas on the 6th (I think) of January because they go off an older calendar than we do. So pretty much everyone (even the little kids) stay up all night and party in the streets. Everyone gets out of their apartments and meets everyone else and has a huge party. They also dance around a Christmas tree in a circle holding hands.
Then we had a Devotional Christmas Eve from some of the MTC presidency and their wives. The tone of the devotional was a lot more light hearted than normal. We sang the 12 days of Christmas MTC style, and it got a bit crazy. They split the auditorium into different sections and each section was a different day and so you got to stand up and sing and do an action when it was your day. By the end each section was competing against the other sections to see who could be the loudest. It was really fun. Then after the devotional we got to watch "Mr. Kruger's Christmas" which was amazing as always. Jimmy Stewart is the best. On Christmas day in the morning after breakfast there was an MTC wide Talent show that lasted about 2 1/2 hours. That was ok though because all the acts were amazing. Like I mentioned before most of my district sang and danced to a Russian folk song, but the highlight of the show was our native Elders doing a remix of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". It was called "You Missionary Now". They had changed all the lyrics and had come up with all these silly dance moves. They had the whole auditorium on their feet when they finished. So silly. Since then I have heard people singing their song all over the MTC. Later that night out in the courtyard they did a couple of encore performances to large crowds. Even our Sunday devotional speaker talked about them in the beginning of his talk. Christmas day afternoon we got to hear from Elder Nelson and his lovely wife. Sister Whiting and I got to sit on the front row because she was saying the closing prayer (she got to shake his hand). He told us the Christmas story from the New Testiment and then said something like "I bet you have never had an apostle tell you the Christmas story before". His wife also spoke and commented on how Sister Whiting was going from Hawaii to the middle of Russia (they anounced where she was from and where she was going) and said "She is going to need the Lord." Then we had another Fireside in the Evening. A reading of "A Christmas Carol" was given by Bro Taylor and Bro Hess! Yes the very same Bro Hess we know. He volunteers in the TE alot. It was really good. The day after Christmas Elder and Sis Nelson came back and so Sis Nelson spoke in Relief Society and Elder Nelson spoke to all the Elders for priesthood. I want to be Sis Nelson when I grow up! She married Elder Nelson about 5 years ago after his wife died. She is from Canada and was a proffessor in Canada and at BYU for a long time in something related to marriage and family life. She has written several books and she brought her best friend Sheri Dew as a Christmas present to us. She talked about the sisterhood in the church, fullfilling our purpose in this life, listening to the spirit, and using the scriptures to get answers to our prayers. She is a very good speaker. We got to shake her and Sis Dew's hands afterwards. So this was a pretty awesome Christmas if I say so myself. Of course it didn't feel the same being away from you all, but I know I had more time to think about the Savior. Plus we got to hear the Christmas story about 5 times, once in Russian and once from an Apostle. Can't get much better than that. I love you all so much! I sure hope Nick gets his mission call before I leave the MTC.
Sis Harrison