Hey family!!!!! I love you guys so much! Can you believe that it has already been two weeks that I've been here in the MTC! It is going by way too fast!
To catch you up to speed with how I've been, the answer is absolutely fantastic! My companion Elder Riddle and I are getting along so wonderfully...we're very different but we are still becoming the best of friends! Our investigator, Mihael, isnt actually an investigator but a teacher here in the MTC and just served in Moscow about a year ago. What makes it more awkward is that not only does he speak fluent English and knew how bad we were doing grammatically etc, but he is now one of our teachers. We have three teachers: Brot Adams, Brot Gallo, and Brot Hollingshead (Mihael). They are the best teachers and all make me want to be so much better as a missionary! Brot Adams (and i saw brot because thats the closest I can get to the russian translation ;) is very wise, well versed in the scriptures, hilarious and asks the perfect piercing questions to get you to answer your own questions. Brot Gallo served in Russia as well and he is literally the most loving person I have ever met! He, to me is the epitome of what a person full to the brim of charity is exactly like. Brot Hollingshead is...well he's just him. He is very much so...well i dont know how to describe him. He's just one of those people who are increadibly hilarious because they try to be serious all the time as a joke. The first time we had him as our teacher, we walked around outside and he pointed things out and their Russian word with his cane...so he's pretty much a super cool Brot Wonka ;) my district is also incredible! We have 6 elders and 4 sisters in our district and we're fast becoming a family. Its funny because a lot of them seem so familiar and do remind me of a few people. We have also been doing really well getting along and setting spiritual and language goals. I didn't realize this before hand, but in the mtc they dont actually teach you the language persay....we actually learn most of it on our own. We have about 7 hours of classroom time every day (only 3-4 on sundays) but only a small portion of that is actually involved in being taught by one of our amazing teachers. Vocabulary, our lessons every other day, our 3 minute talks every sunday (we all prepare since they call on two randomly), or anything else that we need in Russian (ie memorizing passages of scripture, phrases, etc) is all memorized and learned on our own. The idea behind it is that the missionaries need to learn how to study on their own so that in the mission field they can continue with the same methods of language study that they had developed in the MTC. I really do love the language tho and am so greatful to be a part of it!
I am in fact singing in the choir! We meet every Sunday and Tuesday to sing at the Tuesday devotional (we actually have a fireside on Sunday - last Sunday was sister dew - and a devotional on Tuesday nights, kinda like at BYU). I also auditioned...kinda...and got into a choir that is responsible for all the mission president training meetings this next week. What is super cool about that is that we are the singing group that actually is performing at all those meetings which are being taught and presided over by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Sunday well sing for President Monson; Monday, President Eyring; Tuesday, President Utchdorf; Wednesday, President Packer. We'll be about an arms length away from them all as the rooms aren't that big and they'll be right behind us on the stand. Crazy right! It's quite a blessing! But is is hard leaving my companions, and missing time with them. I already feel not right if i dont have Elder Riddle at my side ;)
As you have probably guessed too, the MTC is a place of serious growth. Now I hope that I am growing for the better, which I think I am (height wise too Korm ;) but there is no doubt that I am being taught in so many ways. Whether it be in writting lessons, learning Russian, or being taught from the Spirit, all these things are working for my benefit and I am so grateful! Lately, I have been really focusing on the spirit and being able to teach and recognize it. I haven't really ever felt I recognized the Spirit very well in my life and so I had ofcourse been thinking of how to be better at it. The lord is mindful. I can testify to that. The last three devotional/firesides have been on receiving, recognizing, and acting upon revelation and have helped me bit by bit. Sister Dew posed an incredible question that I have never thought of before: have you ever asked the Lord to teach you how you personally recognize the Spirit? As it says in 2 Ne 31, the lord speaks to all men in their own language and unto their own understanding. So I continue to pray that the lord will continue to teach me and help me to become more reliant on him. Russian is only the secondary language I am learning in the MTC,- yes though it is the most prevalent of languages I am learning, I am seeking to understand and gain fluency in the language that will shape the rest of my life: the language of the Spirit. Even the Lord used mycompainon to chastise me when it came to sitting around and waiting for revelations rather than doing what I knew was best and listening for the spirit, that strengthened my humility!
I love you all so much! I have been receiving your letters on dear elder, but I would also like to hear from every one too! Not every week neccessarily, but I still want to keep in touch. I only have 30 minutes every Wednesday to send emails, so if there are spelling errors or puncuation errors, know that I dont have a ton of time and would appreciate a spell check before it goes on to the blog. I have such a testimony of this work and of the lord's hand in my life. I try harder every day to be the best missionary I can and pray for you all every day. I can't even tell you how much I have a testimony and know this is true! I'm just trying to be true to what i know now.
Dad, I'm sending you a package this week. happy fathers day!Love Elder Claypool