Sunday, September 30, 2012

From "marshuteka" to Zone Conference

Hey Mom! (and I guess anyone else who reads this letter ;) --- I wrote dad separately since he is in Asia.

I think you and dad are so funny because I try to give you credit for raising me to be who I am and helping me to become who I am I have first-hand experience seeing what lack of good parenting can do... and yet you both try to deny it! I guess I didn't learn the humility trait from you both...smiley face. ... It sounds like you are more busy than I am! I cannot believe how incredible you are growing with all your duties, and everyone else too. Though I can't really put my finger specifically on certain things, I know that Heavenly Father is blessing us for the little we do in comparison to what He does for us.

MaKormick is going to the high school homecoming dance? With whom might I ask? I can't believe I wasn't sent a list of girls to choose from before he asked her? Ha ha...And yes mom, I would definitely agree with you that he should go classy with the gray shirt and pink tie...unless he had a pink shirt, charcoal tie and vest...that would be classy ;) It sounds like you are having a great time with the twins! Give them big hugs for me and let them know that I show people in Ukraine their pictures all the time (along with the rest of the family) and actually shared the photos with a random guy on the bus yesterday. The busses here are super crowed and I hardly ever have a seat to sit in. It's really cool that here Ukranian men typically give their seats up to ladies if there are no open seats. As missionaries, we definitely follow their example. On a little "marshuteka" as they are called, which is a little bigger than a twelve passenger van with a higher ceiling and more seats. These things hold upwards of 30+ people on them! Imagine all the people at your dinner {MaKade is referring to a dinner Kim just had this past weekend at our house where the twins had 30 people from their soccer team over} on one marshuteka. Sometimes a bus pulls up and we look and see that there is literally no room.........but we somehow manage to squeeze in (there are no such things as personal bubbles here) and at every stop we literally fall out the door every time they open the door, squeeze back in, and wait for the door to close in order to make it to the next stop ;) What fun!

For this week, things here feel slow. The days go by fast (I cannot believe that I am already almost done with my first transfer) but I don't yet have the sense of urgency that I need. I really do want to work until I drop and then keep on working, but my will and desires aren't quite on the same frequency. We're getting there though. I made a ton of long-term goals; more like a "to-be" list rather than a "to-do" list, that I want to become on my mission and in life. I pulled from my patriarchal blessing {like in the Biblical times, the LDS church has a patriarch in each region. A patriarchal blessing is given by a patriarch. It is similar to a prayer but given just once to worthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is a sacred and personal blessing from the Lord. It provides information such as declaring a person's lineage, meaning which tribe of Isael he/she belongs to, and it gives insight and counsel for and about the person's life. It may include promises of blessings if he/she remains worthy, as well as warnings about temptations or weaknesses, or counsel how the person should live} my missionary blessing, and my call from President Monson {he is the current prophet and president of the church and sent MaKade the letter calling him to serve a mission in the Ukraine}. Unless we have a vision of where we want to go in life we become as Lehi {this is a name of a prophet who lived in Jerusalem about the same time as the Old Testament Jeremiah in 600 BC} speaks of in 2 Nephi chapter 2: 'we are only acted upon instead of acting'. When we compliment a vision by making sure we add goals and set out to accomplish them, rather than just wishful thinking, we will truly progress and become someone who acts and who is not just acted upon. I love a quote by Elder Ballard {he is currently one of the Twelve Apostles in the church} in "Preach My Gospel" {this is a teaching manual that missionaries use} where he says that in regards to setting goals, " if we do not set goals and learn to master the ability to set goals and accomplish them, then we will reach the end of our life only to realize we had become only a small portion of our full-potential" . In D&C 88 {D&C is an abbreviation for a book of scripture called Doctrine & Covenants} we read these pretty poinant verses:

"...nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift." (vv32-36)

We have been given the incredible gift to be agents for ourselves and act if we so choose. To think that we are only created to be acted upon is to deny the very purpose of our existence and the love of God. Even when we are seamlessly buffetted by the circumstances that surround us, remember this wonderful advice first from Elder Oaks {he is currently serving as one of the Twelve Apostles of the church} and then from James Allen, an English writer

1. Agency is the right to choose our own will and Freedom is the ability to carry it out. We all have our agency and even if we don't have the freedom, we still have the right given by God to choose.
2. "Man is only subject to his circumstances until he realizes that he is master over them."

In our recent Zone Conference {this is a meeting that groups or districts of missionaries go to every few months} with Elder Clark of the Seventy {this is a term used for the quorum of priesthood members that is below the 12 Apostles}, Sister Campero {she is the Donetsk Ukraine mission president's wife and the Campero's are from Bolivia serving in Ukraine} talked about how in the place where she grew up, there was a bird who would land on a house or building, and say one of two things: 'buente fue" or 'mal-mal" (forgive me if my attempt at her Bolivian dialect is incorrect ;) When one heard 'buente fue' it was a good day, and 'mal-mal' it was a bad day. We have in us the ability and power to make every day a 'buente-fue' day. It all comes down to what we choose. We learned lots yesterday in the Zone Conference and were edified by the Good word of God from one of His chosen servants who holds the same title as we do as missionaries. We spoke of many things that inspired, and also cut its way to our hearts because of one thing: The Spirit. When we have the Spirit with us, we are admonished, reproved and blessed for that which we do and do not do. Don't forget that the Atonement was given to us to be justified and sanctified. The Spirit is the one who carries those gifts and blessings to us. HE is our functional tool in which we apply and accept the Atonement into our lives and become changed. But we must first act.

This week was pretty difficult and full of learning experiences, but I'm ready to face them for my Father, my Savior, for these people, and for all of you. I love you all so much and have been blessed with the best family in the world. My whole family and friends. Help others feel the Love of Heavenly Father for them. No one doesn't want to be loved. Not one person. When we are truly becoming as Christ we can look at anyone no matter who or what they have done or become, and see within them the divine potential to change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. To think otherwise is to deny the very power that supports you in your everyday life. Plus, how much better does it feel to love? Thank you for being such an incredible example to me of Christ-like love and charity.

Sorry if my pronouns are a little confusing since I switch to being specific with my 'yous' talking to you and also very general with them. It'd be easier in Russian to understand me. ;)

Give everyone a hug from me and let them all know that I love them, and have a firm resolve that this life is for us to choose. Take advantage of that and 'choose eternal life' (2 Nephi 2:28)

Love you all!
Elder MaKade C Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission

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