Well my family,
Here I am again on another P-day doing the most incredible work, and really only important work here in our portion of eternity. Can you believe I only have about a month left here in the MTC?That thought alone has left me to do some serious thinking about what I really am doing and if I am really prepared to do it.Naturally this thought has made me reflect on my language abilities. For those of you who don't know, Russian isn't the easiest, but can be rather difficult.The progress we are all making every day is ginormous, but still when you look at the abilities in comparison to the end result, it can seem very overwhelming and daunting. During the week, there were many times when this overwhelming-ness hit me like a wall...every day multiple times too! One came as we were teaching the entire first lesson to another companionship...we had never taught the first lesson before and naturally, were a little rusty...but what made it harder was that our companionship that we were teaching were fantastic at not only teaching in the language but teaching in the doctrine. Now, I know it is not good to compare, but I still did in my selfish little natural-man ways. This caused me to get rather frustrated and not so happy about where I was at. I was greedy rather than grateful.
We ended up teaching another lesson to our investigator Vladimr (pronounced Vlad-ee-mer, like redeemer), and got him one step closer to baptism and taught a great lesson but still I had that dark corner of greed lurking in my mind. After the lesson I was still frustrated and so I started to point a finger in my head, not verbally thankfully, but in my head. I decided from an early stage in the MTC I was going to make sure that my companion and I were progressing together to ensure we were unified. So naturally I was seek to blame him in part because of my language abilities. See how all of this is so focused inward? Pretty nasty stuff isn't it? I was able to get a little of a hold of myself and bring things back into focus; not focus on my worries, but focus on my blessings, my investigator, and my companion. The Lord was helping to see things in a new light I guess.
However, the next day came and it was time to teach Vova. Now, Vova was a bit of a tough investigator at first seeing as he would read the Book of Mormon, pray, and all, but he just wouldn't go to church. Finally one day he was on a business trip in southern Ukraine and just decided to go to church. From there we were able to progress with Him a lot faster, teaching him lesson three, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then actually committing him to baptism. This was our last meeting with him and I was focused on myself. I knew I could not focus on my lack of language, on my lack of ability, on me...so I said a quick prayer asking for forgiveness, tried to focus on the investigator, his needs ,and his faith, and then we went into the lesson.
Now, to take a step back , I feel its pretty appropriate to label this account and an Elder Claypool pride cycle that occurs at least once every day if not more, but I want you all to see the blessings that came from it. Recently, even though at the time I didn't feel like I really needed it, I wasn't praying for the gift of tongues. I had a strong testimony of the things the spirit had helped me with and that the spirit definitely spoke through the barrier of my poor Russian, but I didn't really feel the need to pray for the gift of tongues...I'm sure you can guess how intelligent that was ;) so, I decided to start praying for it because I was supposed to, not only because I needed it. During this lesson as I was able to focus on Vova, to teach him of his covenants and bear testimony, I felt the spirit so strongly and couldn't deny its power working through me. I spoke and word came out of my mouth that I knew, but wasn't consciously recalling them...I couldn't even remember half of the things that I said previously. We read with him Mosiah 18:30 and there was a very tender moment as we talk of the importance of this day to him, and then closed in the name of Him we represent. I have every confidence that our lesson was taught through the Spirit to Vova that day and that the gift of tongues is a literal gift that blesses me daily. But in order to receive it and in order to receive and spiritual gifts we are to ensure that we are worthy of such, we ask for such, and we seek to do everything we can to be as such. In a fireside given by Elder Featherstone (which is a whole other 30 minutes of typing a letter's worth), he quoted Elder Bruce R McConkie who said: "No other talent exceeds spirituality." I believe that to be firmly true.