Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spiritually Uplifted, No One Tried To Kill Us, We Shared Truths, and Hearts Were Touched

Hello my lovely family!!

Celebrating Motra L.'s birthday:)
Well thank you all so much for fasting for me!! I'm having faith that the benefits of that fast will be reaped this coming week. 
Unfortunately, this last week has been my worst week in the mission, if we are going with numbers. But I did also get really sick this last Wednesday and it definitely took a toll on our work for a couple of days because I could not move without my head feeling like it was going to explode. So thankfully the symptoms for that have kinda left and now I'm only left with a piercing ear ache that causes me to basically scream out loud on occasion. Any advice for how to get rid of an ear ache? 

2 handsome Elder's leaving church.
So work has been slow this week, but I guess I can count it as a successful week seeing as we were spiritually uplifted, no one tried to kill us, we shared truths, and hearts were touched. We street contacted until our little boy hearts could street contact no more and I had to carry my young Padawan, Elder Eliason, back to the house with fatigue running through our spirits and gut-wrenching discouragement pounding our brains. As we planned out the next days activities our mouths would be watering for a taste of an actual lesson with an interested investigator. We search our planners for numbers that we had acquired after hours of endless, language straining, and seemingly hopeless street contacting. As we dial the numbers into our handheld cellular device, I gently raise the phone to my winter cold ears with a silent prayer in my heart. Then a voice comes up on the other and it says "Numeri që thirrët nuk existon." Or in other words, "This number doesn't exist."

Hello Elder Hanks:)
Basically that's how a lot of this week panned out. People would either give us fake numbers, not answer their phones, or just straight up say "I'm not interested. (In my eternal salvation)." But I'm definitely understanding why this is happening. I had tons of success in Durrës and I had work when I first got to Tirana so God wants me to see every single aspect of missionary life. And I'm grateful that he has given me this challenge because it's making me become a lot more diligent in getting up and out of the house in the morning to go seek referrals from members, tract a pallat, or go street contact for hours on end. Sure it's disheartening and sometimes feels absolutely useless. But "God's will has a purpose but we may never know it." (This is a quote from A KNIGHTS TALE if no one remembers.)  

Jed and Elder T. looking towards Tirana.  
Yeah, so that's about all the new stuff that's going on here. I feel like this whole month of January has just been flying right by though. I'm almost halfway done with training my son. I've started calling him my Padawan from now on because I like referring to myself as Master Jedi Kllasën. We are almost to week 6 of our training schedule and I feel like I just got Elder Eliason the other day! 

Last Wednesday night I started feeling a little weird by the end of the night. I had a sort of scratchy feeling in the back of my throat and by the time I came in that night for language study I realized that I was not gonna be a happy camper in the morning. I went to bed that night and woke up the next morning feeling like I had been bulldozed by Megatron with a herd of robot elephants with Bazookas. I don't know if that made a whole lot of sense but it's how I felt. That kinda held me back from shaking hands with lots of people because I had a runny nose from hell, and my voice sounded like Lillie's from that one episode of How I Met Your Mother when she smokes the cigarettes. (Jake and Emma might know what I'm talking about.) So no one really wanted to talk to the weird, short, American kid. 

One good thing that I almost forgot to mention was my English Course Class. I have 5 regular people that come in and they are so excited to learn. The only weird disadvantage is that I teach the intermediate class, so I don't know what to teach them. They know lots of things that beginners know but they aren't as good as advanced people so it's just hard to know what to work on every week. But they have shown a little bit of interest in the Book of Mormon so I'm hoping that something beautiful will blossom from that. 

Jed was able to baptize this cute lady this week.  And the cute little blond sister missionary took piano lessons from AUNT MADALYN!!  Such a small world:) (for all those Clawson's relatives who know and love Aunt Madalyn.)
And speaking of blossoms from English Course, I got to baptize Eli this Saturday!! Elder Matson and I found her from our last English Course and we taught her quite a bit but then we had to give her up to the sisters because she lived in their branch. I did get to baptize her though, but unfortunately I said the prayer wrong, (it was in Albanian you guys, cut me some slack) so I had to dunk her twice but it was whatevs. <-- Funny. 

After all that, she told me that I was her "American son" and that just made my day. She is the nicest old lady and when I come back to Albania she wants me to stay at her house. Pretty awesome. 

P-day today was to the Tirana Zoo.  Rabbit:)
That's about it for the week. Sorry if I've been kinda weird in this email. This mission does things to you. My favorite Old Spice flavor is WOLF THORN! or Fiji. Anything that will make me smell like football, motorcycles, or something manly. Tell Seth way to keep the pride in the Clawson family!! He is our New Hope. Like Luke Skywalker. But tell him that I'm proud that he is my brother. He looks like he's stretching right out! I saw the pic on the instagram thing on your blog. Have fun skiing and I really love you guys. 

Love, Jed

Dear Mother,
So I'm staying safe and healthy for the most part.  A lot of my clothes smell like cigarette smoke because everyone smokes here and I think I might be getting addicted to second hand smoke. Ah well. Tell Brooke that I'm super happy for her! Tell her that she will be a fantastic missionary! I'm really excited for her. I love you so much!

Love, Your Eldest and Favoritest, Jedediah

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Finding, Member Visits, and More Finding

The District!
Jan. 20, 2014 Email

Hello Beloved Family!!

So I'm happy to hear that you all had a fantastic time at Sun Valley! I am also glad to hear that Seth is becoming a beast at skiing finally!!
Well this week has been full of finding, member visits, and more finding.
The week started out with us just standing out on the sidewalk of Myslym Shuri, which is a pretty popular street in the Tirana e Re area and we found absolutely no one! We've spent probably about 48 hours this last week doing finding. Fortunately we've finally found several really good numbers that we've been trying to meet with. One kid is named Elton and he has met with us once. He's a really good kid and he brought his friend Geris who we also met when we street contacted into him. He has a Book of Mormon now and he's been reading but he hasn't been able to meet with us because he works a lot of the time.
Therefore, we've been doing a lot of work with recent converts and less actives. We met with this one guy named Leo and he lives out in the fshat (village:  thank heaven's for Google Translate!  I am becoming fluent:)) called Kombinat but we met with him and he said that he wants to come to church but he has some health issues and it's hard for him to go out and get to church. He is also trying to find work.  We have also been meeting with this one girl named Algida. She is a fantastic recent convert and she is booming with the Spirit. She has translated Jesus the Christ into Albanian and whenever we have a lesson with her she always asks us how we can apply the lesson to ourselves and she basically teaches us. She is so great!
Combined Language Study
We are meeting with the Juba family to teach them the retention lessons. They usually feed us dinner  which is pretty awesome. Samuel and Evi are doing awesome in seminary and they are passing and preparing the sacrament every single week and I'm like a proud father!! 

Speaking of being a proud father, Elder Eliason is doing fantastic! His language is getting better, slowly but surely. I had an interview with President Ford and he suggested that I have a combined language study every now and then with the other Elders in my district. We've done that twice and I've taught both of the times and I know it's helping them, but it's also solidifying my own language skills. 
Wrong bathroom Jed!  Even I can read that Albanian sign:)

President Ford asked me how my family was doing and I told him that you were all at Sun Valley skiing and he just said "Well that's sad that you're not skiing with them, but you're so blessed to be here in Albania!" And I couldn't agree more!!

Lately I've really started to see how much Albania is starting to feel like home. I'll get out of the house in the mornings and we'll say hi to the bakery lady, see the usual old guys out playing dominoes and it's nice to feel comfortable here. I really do love being here. As much as I miss all of you, I do not want to leave. It was also really cool to see Dave Johnson too!! I'm glad he got a picture with me and Elder Anderson for ya'll. It was fun to see a familiar Providence (Cache Valley) face. He just reminded me of his sister, Mary Kate!! They are so similar.
P-day lunch.
Tell Jake that if he's eating at a nice restaurant, they serve real buffalo burgers. But I know how he feels. Today I asked for some chicken wings, and I got 5 pitiful little things that resembled the arm of a chicken. Come on people!! All I want is some OREOS and some BBQ Sauce, Old Spice Deodorant, and good toothpaste!! (Those are things I would like in the next package.)

I hope all is well with everyone, I love you all and I miss you all!!

Love, Jed
Dear Mother,
Are you starting to suck at skiing now?! You couldn't keep up with everyone? I'm glad Jane is following in my footsteps. Even though I never remember saying I was sick. I'm glad to hear that Weston is okay. I don't know him very well, he hung out with another group of kids, but I had the same classes as him a few times. Thanks for keeping me updated on everything Mom, I appreciate it. I love you so much!!

Love, The Eldest Son, Jedediah

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Things That Help Me Learn Albanian

Sorry friends and family!!  This is last weeks email from Elder Clawson!  I'm a slug and a slacker and Jed has chastised me for not having it up in a timely manner.  I promise I'll keep up:)

Jan. 13, 2014
Hello Everyone!!

So this week has been pretty fun and lots of finding has been going on. Elder Eliason is slowly but surely making improvements in his language abilities and it's really cool to see him blossom into a beautiful Albanian butterfly. 

Since we kinda baptized all of the investigators that I had with my previous set of companions, we have been spending an awful lot of time out finding. And it has been really slow. The past two days have probably been the best of the week because people were actually stopping to talk to us, but they just didn't have the whole desire to learn more. We had a few potential people that I thought were feeling it but they just weren't quite super accepting of what we were saying. Kinda rough but ah well.
Jed and Elder Eliason were EXCEEDINGLY proud of these homemade nachos!!!

Last Monday night we were asked to go out to a little fshat outside of Tirana, to visit a member who needed a blessing. We got to her house from the bus station and we talked with her for a little bit and she had an old friend there that I talked to for a while. She was like 80 years old and was telling me the story of her life basically and how she had her husband and son die by the border of Greece and all kinds of other crazy stuff. I kinda wanted to switch tangents so I asked her if she was with any religion at the time and she said "Yeah I'm a Jehovah's Witness." So that was the extent of my religious conversation seeing as we have plenty of arguments with JW's in the streets. The lady we were giving the blessing to was very grateful that we had come all the way out from the center of Tirana to come and give her a blessing. She made us a meal which consisted of chicken, rice, tuna salad, juice, and my son's (His companion he is training) favorite thing ever, fshat kos. This is the kinda kos (yogurt drink) that they let go sour and it gets all clumpy and you eat it with a spoon. I just downed my bowl and my poor companion almost threw up the first bite he took. I told him if he eats the kos, drinks the dhallë, drinks the ujë me gaz, (carbonated water), and eats the cat meat, his Albanian will get better faster. After we finished eating we gave the blessing for her and really felt the Spirit. It was a nice way to start the week. 
Elder Clawson and Elder Eliason getting ready for the day.

We didn't teach a ton of lessons this week but the ones we got were really good. Evi and Samuel received the Aaronic Priesthood two weeks ago and they passed the sacrament yesterday and it just made my heart jump for joy! They are some awesine kids and I think they will be some strong members if they stick to their guns. Also, I don't know if you all remember but I had one investigator that I had to give to the sister missionaries in another branch and her name was Eli. She was an older lady but she was progressing very well and I had very high hopes for her. She is now being taught by two sisters and she is getting baptized!  And she asked me to baptize her!! I'm so excited! So that's all the good highlights of this week. 
Elder Clawson and Elder Brown saying their goodbyes.  Elder Brown LOVES being featured on
the blog and is now home:)

I hope you guys are all having a fantastic time in Sun Valley. I'm sure it'll be fantastic ripping it up on the slopes and what not. The weather here feels like September at home. I'm wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts right now cuz it's not cold enough for pants today. It doesn't usually get too cold and there's no more snow in the mountains which kinda sucks. Maybe I'll go to Kosovo sometime next winter. I'd like that. I'm having fun and being safe and smart. My companion gets freaked out about how close I get to speeding cars when I cross the street, but I just tell him it helps me learn Albanian. 
A very typical meal.  I have lot's of pictures of this dish.  It's called a Meat Pot and Jed said it's delicious!!

Elder Clawson and Elder J. from Jed's MTC group,
I love you guys so much and I hope you all stay safe!!! Tell Emma to text Carson to let him know that I love him and I'm excited for him to come join his Nord Brothers in the field!! Kirsten said he gave a really good talk too. Love ya guys!!

Love, Jedediah the Nord Lord

Dear Mother, 
I'm glad you get to go skiing with everyone in Sun Valley. I'll miss that this year but hey, I might not even be able to afford skiing with ya when I'm home so I guess you can all get used to not having me with you!! Those Red Velvet cookies looked delicious and I would say send some to me, but I don't know if they'd survive. Well I love you Mom, have fun and tell everyone I said hi. 

Love, Jed

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Understood Every Single Word

Elder Clawson on the quiet streets of Tirana, Albania on P-day.
Hello my lovely family,

Well I am a proud father. (When a missionary trains a new missionary straight from the MTC they are considered father and son.  And the funny thing is that Elder Foster, who trained Jed, is now considered Elder Eliason's grandfather.) My son is one Elder Eliason from a little village in Illinois. He's a month younger than me so it's not one of those weird situations where you give birth to a son that's older than you. 

These elders are all waiting to pick up their new trainees. 
So I picked him up at the mission home last Thursday along with all of the other training Elders. We were all super stoked to get our sons. We had a really good training from President Ford, (a training on how to train. THE IRONY!!), anyways, that was really good and I totally forgot that when you have a trainee, you get put on a different schedule than the normal missionaries. We have an extra hour of study during the day for "The Training Program". And they also really emphasize the fact that we shouldn't skip out on those studies. It's kinda different than from what I'm used to in the past. We kinda would skip out on a few studies as I had been here longer because we would have lessons but I guess the studies are really vital for the trainees. 

This is Jed's new companion.  Elder E. The caption that came with this photo was, "I'm Happy!"
He actually sent a really cute picture of
both of them smiling, but it was too blurry.  Sorry!  So just imagine Elder Clawson smiling too!
We took a taxi with all of Elder Eliason's stuff in it back to our house and we moved him right on in. We went out street contacting that night with the other missionaries in our branch. One other set of Elders and a set of Sisters. They are all fantastic, and the new kids are a really good group of new missionaries. 

Elder E was in his high school band and he has lots of fun stories.  He is a hard worker and enjoys putting himself out there. Me and Elder Bullock, have been throwing our trainees into the fire recently so they kinda get a foot hold on how people will react to missionaries. We had them contact by themselves for about 20 minutes last week and they got a solid number of people they talked to. They are doing great.  We are doing a lot of finding, or street contacting right now.  We have found some pretty promising people.  We met one kid named Elton that called us and asked if we could meet on Sunday and give him a Book of Mormon. We met with him last night but we didn't have enough time to really get into anything, so we just went through the introduction of the Book of Mormon with him and he seemed pretty stoked on getting the book to read. 

Jed saying goodbye to his latest companion.  
So hopefully this week really gives out some good investigators.  One amazing thing that happened this week was with my language. I was having a really hard time understanding people completely with my last companions and that was one thing that really made me nervous. I knew for a fact that no trainee was going to understand a native speaker that speaks a million miles an hour, and I was the person who had to understand what was being said. But our first lesson, I understood every single word that was said. And I was able to explain my own thoughts and that made me feel like a million bucks. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I know for a fact that they are what's keeping me alive and going here in Albania. 

This picture is from Christmas right after the elder's Skyped their families.
Today for P Day we went to the big treg (a large enclosed market)and I bought a hoody and two new ties. They're pretty cool. Elder Eliason bought a new watch and a couple cool ties as well. I told him welcome to the land of cheap ties bro. Then we went to Tajvani and went bowling again and this time they had the cosmic lights on!! That was awesome. Then we took our new companions  to eat a "Special Pita" at Time Out which is one of the missionaries favorite things in the world. We also made them drink Dhallë. That was awesome. (From what I've heard, this drink is very common, and served everywhere, but I haven't heard of any missionaries who actually liked it.) 


is a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt. In addition to Turkey, where is it considered a national drink, ayran is found in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Lebanon, and is present in the North Caucasus, too. It may also be referred to as Turkish buttermilk. ...

I hope school is good for all the kids. The new couch looks freaking awesome. But it'll be a while till I see it in person. I love you all so very very much. Have a good week and have fun skiing and stuff. Tell Jess good luck with that baby!!

Love, Jed

Dear Mom,

I hope you had a good time at Jess's baby shower. It looked like a lot of fun. Tell Gem good job for learning how to ski and tell Grandpa that he better be down with skiing with me when I get home. I hope everyone is happy and healthy. Love ya mom!!

Love, Jedediah 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year From Albania (and BTW, I'm training!)

Today's p-day activity involved climbing to the top of "The Pyramid" in Tirana.
New Year's is the big holiday in Albania.  Jed said last night was like World War III.  Rockets and fireworks blasting all night!

The pyramid: International Center of Culture (AlbanianPiramida) was a museum in TiranaAlbania, that opened on October 14, 1988. Formerly known as "Enver Hoxha Museum." This pyramid-shaped structure was designed by the daughter and son-in-law of the late communist leader Enver Hoxha. It served as a museum about his legacy, but after 1991 became a conference center and exhibition venue. Some sources have referred to it as the "Enver Hoxha Mausoleum" although this was not an official appellation.[1]
During the 1999 Kosovo War, the museum was used as a base by NATO and humanitarian organizations.[2]
It appears that the 17,000 meters square complex may be destroyed for the new Albanian parliament to be built on its place.[3][4][5] However, some leading foreign architects have opposed such a move while other supported it. Historian Ardian Klosi who died recently, initiated a petition not to demolish the structure with around 6000 signatures. Prior to being designated as the seat of the Albanian parliament, the structure was originally supposed to be turned into an opera theater. However construction works were halted, while the exterior marble tiles were removed and seen in a depot outside of Tirana.[6]
Since 2001, part of the Pyramid is used as broadcasting center by Albanian TV channel Top Channel. The surrounding space is currently being used as a parking lot, and bus station for mini vans to Elbasan.
Hello sweet family!!!!!!

So it's been a while since I've written you all an email. Lots of stuff has happened though. 

Well I started the week with Elder A and we just kept working with a family we've been teaching and with E. and getting them all ready for baptism that week. Before Christmas we had the baptism for E and there were so many people there to support him. All of the young women came and watched him be baptized which was a totally self esteem boost for E. He also brought his sister who kinda had interest in the church but not a whole lot and we still haven't been able to set up a meeting with her. The baptism went fantastic and I didn't have to dunk him  more than once. He gave a balling testimony and we all ended with lots of smiles.

The next day was the day for the family's baptisms in Durres.  So we ended up taking a fergon (Like a big van with tons of people on it.) on out to Durres and I got to see tons of old friends there. Two of the Pjetri family kids were there and I got to talk with them for a while as well. The dad got to baptize all three of the kids which was such a spiritual boost for that family. The kids came up and gave their testimony and cute little Erik got up there, said good evening, and then just started crying! It was the cutest thing that I've ever seen!!

So we were on cloud nine that night and we actually came home with the family in their freaking nice Mercedes-Benz. That was a lot of fun and Erik was going freaking crazy. But ah well.  

So it was basically just busy work after that with Elder A until Christmas came. The Shkoder Elders came and stayed with us all night Christmas Eve and that was ridiculously fun. The next morning we woke up and I opened up all of my presents, which were so cool by the way, and then we made blueberry pancakes for everyone. We went to the treg (an open market I believe.) and I bought a new watch and some new scarves and what not and then we went on our way to the mission home to go and eat with the Fords.

 There were 6 of us who were invited to come and eat at the mission home. We got to the mission home and waited a little bit for everyone to get there and then we all sat at the table and exchanged some gifts that we had been given from the Fords. We had lots of good things to eat at their house and we all had a good time. After dinner we completed a big puzzle with a picture of a Ferrari on it. Then we watched an original British Christmas movie called the "Snowman" which was just a silent cartoon with a soundtrack of music but I really liked it. It was cool. 

Then I went to an internet joint and I got to Skype with ya'll!!! That was fantastic to talk with everyone. Jane is so big! It's ridiculous. I've missed out on all of that fun with her!! She made me more trunky than Kirsten did. And thanks for letting me talk with her for a little bit as well. We both appreciate it. 

After all that, A and I just tried to get work done. He was dying hard core and I know it was hard for him to get the desire to work. (When a missionary is about to return home they are considered "Dying".  Compared to when they get to the mission they are considered "Born".) But we did fine and it was really sad when they left on Sunday. Two elders came down from Shkoder and they picked up A from the house and Elder B just stayed with me. We said our goodbyes and told them that we would see them in a year and a half! That was the night that we also got our transfer calls.
Me and B went and worked and then came home to wait for our calls from President Ford. B got his first and he was told that he would be staying in Shkoder and he would be going with Elder V. who is a native!! He was stoked and nervous at the same time but it was all good. Then President wanted to get on the phone with me. 

He asked me how I was doing and how it was with Elder A and after I had answered all of his questions he told me that I would be staying in the second branch, and I would be training. 

I don't know if this is a big deal to ya'll, but it blew me out of the water! I'm the only Elder in my group who will be training and I don't know if I'll be able to handle it!! This boy better be good at the language or heaven help him cuz I won't be able to. A lot of praying has been happening with this and I'm excited to start. I meet the new missionaries tomorrow and we'll have a meeting and then I'll be taking my new "son" to the house to start work. Pretty crazy. 

Well that's the news for the week. I'm glad you all got to go skiing recently. Sounds fun. I love you guys so much!! Have a good week.

Love, Jed

Dear Mother,
I am super nervous to train. It's a really big step for me and I hope I can do my best. I hope everything is okay with you and the family. I love you guys so much. 

Love, Jed