Sunday, October 7, 2012

Helping each other to improve and progress towards Christ

Hi Family,
For a second when I saw what time you sent this and it said 7:39am, I thought that you were up at 1:39 am thinking that you were only 6 hours behind. When I realized that you are actually 10 hours behind, I felt a little better ;) That sounds like an incredible week! In being able to hear your stories and experiences with your calling has been an incredible strength to me here in Ukraine and I benefit greatly from it. It's all good with the mini preach my Gospels, I have a big one and the doctrine is the same so feel free to take your time! I don't want you to feel any more rushed than you already are ;) I have not yet bought my winter gear but will soon. Its still pretty fall-like here and not too bad...yet, but I'll be sure to get on that soon.

It sounds like the twins and korm are doing absolutely wonderful! The twins are going crazy with soccer and Korm with pretty much everything else! What a stud! You'll have to send me some pictures from their evening of romance so I can see how handsome he was. Tell the twins congrats on their wins and success and tell them to score a goal for me next time ;) Also, give the Molina's a hug for me. I haven't seen them in forever, but would want them to know how much I love them!

This week...

You know, I always get to this part and seem to hit a blank just trying to think of what to say. In every week there are so many experiences that make the week, but I just have a hard time expressing them. So, here goes... ;)

First and foremost, our companionship

There are fewer things that are more rewarding in this life than the relationships that we have with others in trying to help each other improve and progress towards Christ...there are also fewer things in life that cause greater stress within our hearts as well. Elder Harvey and I were able to have some pretty good heart-to-hearts these last few days talking about our lives, our missions, and life to come. When I first met my companion, I thought to myself "Oh, so president put me with a trunky(anxious to finish his mission) missionary to balance him out and help him to be better," not a very teachable attitude or humble one either for that matter. However, I have come to realize and am grateful for Elder Harvey's innate ability to help me to see my weakness only because of how I treat him. With my companion I am able to work on patience, true love, lack of judgement, and being a true friend (as he too has to be patient, etc with me ;) We have been able to grow closer together and really start to be there for one another. To see him change though, - to see him go from a way of behavior to a more noble, higher behavior, literally brings more joy to my heart than anything I have ever felt. It's not because of me in the least, and if it was all credit goes to Heavenly Father giving me the strength to do what I have, but he is beginning to really change. As am I.
In reading an article given to me by Elder Samuelson and with my experiences here in Ukraine, I have been able to learn that there are two kinds of successful missionaries: 1. Those who do all they are supposed to and even are successful, worthy, etc, but do it only out of duty and wanting deep down inside to do their own will. This missionary begrudgingly does what he is supposed to and as a result, like Moroni says in chapter 7 of his book, "it," meaning that which he gave begrudgingly, "profits him nothing." This was a crazy thought to think that just because I did something that I was supposed to didn't mean that I would receive the fullest blessings I could. Or 2. Those who also do all they are supposed to and even are successful, worthy, etc, and give their whole heart to the will of the Lord. Desires, works, will, and hopes are swallowed up in the surrendering of our lives to Him so that He can make of us what we could only dream to become. He, the grand master has everything in the world except one thing: our will. We cant be coerced to give or submit our heart because we have our agency, but we can however choose to give it to Him. Now, at first when I read this, I thought, "oh man, I definitely have not let my desires be swallowed up in His will as I should...I wake up and really have a hard time wanting to contact....when people are rude and I'm tired, I just want to go home and eat...etc." But you know, this isn't a bad thing to have your own desires, in fact, it is an opposition to give you greater opportunity to choose the Lord. When the Savior was performing that which His Father asked of Him, namely the Atonement of mankind, He said these words:

"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."

Even though He wished it to be otherwise, He still did the will of the Father whole-heartedly, knowing that it was for a better cause. This is what we all work towards I guess: Giving ourselves, or rather losing ourselves, in the will of the Lord. All we have to do it make the decision today. Amazingly simple right?!

As for our investigators and the work here...

Things are going well here in the Petrovsky area of Donetsk and honestly it is incredible here. Difficult, and yes we do often have days where key indicators look more like some binary code, but we're not giving up! We have had some pretty incredible lessons with some less actives this last week too! Did you know that 80% of the members here are less active or inactive (Baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that do not attend church regularly or do not follow the guidelines and standards of the Church)? That just makes me so sad and sick to even think about this. We have been visiting with a sweet babushka named Anna who just...doesn't want anything to do with the church. With her we have been very straight forward and loving at the same time. There is a serious power in helping people remember the Savior and the covenants they have made and then in His name inviting them to him and promising blessings. There was a time that I can remember just sitting in here apartment looking at her and just seeing her thinking - remembering her baptismal day and just how beautiful it was. If there are any less actives you can bring back, please do. Christ says that as converted disciples of Him we need to feed his lambs (investigators) and feed his sheep (less actives)

With our other investigators, we are searching for more, and working with them as often as we can. We are even trying this new tactic where an eternal investigator meets with us and has companionship study, and then we teach his friend who he referred to us as if he was a member on the lesson (since he knows everything). We're hoping that will help them both progress. Roman, the 20yr, is really close and is praying about a baptismal date the 20th of October, and Oleg, our newest investigator is soon to be committed to a date. Ira, is still struggling to find a way to get to church, and that pretty much sums up our investigators. We really are blessed to have such a wonderful teaching pool, but we need to be escalator missionaries, and find many to teach.

This work is so true and so incredibly amazing! The Spirit is so strongly aiding us in all that we do as we are worthy of it. There's a lot to be done here and the literal gather of Israel is happening. Please know that from a person that is in the very place where the majority of Israel dwell. They're here, and they are prepared. They need our prayers. If you have a chance, read Preach My Gospel under the last few chapters about finding and helping people keep commitments. Not only will this help you all be the best member missionaries you can be, but it will help you realize how to best help yourself come to Christ.

Oh and I'm starting a reading program where hopefully I will finish the Book of Mormon by Dec 31 (3ish chapters a day) and then the rest of the Standard works (New Testament, Old Testament, Doctrine and Covenants) by Dec 31 2013. (6 pages a day)

I love you all so much and am so thankful for all that you do to help me and support me. I was thinking about the sacrifices you make for me and your prayers, and my heart just swells in gratitude for you. I love you all so much. This is the time to let your light shine!

Elder Claypool

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