Hello Friends and Family!!!!!!
its so good to hear from you and to see all these pictures...yeah its hard to focus back on the work, but if I use it for my advantage, then it helps me want to share this joy I feel with all the other families around me! Congrats to all the new missionaries and soon to be! Welcome to the becoming of a lifetime. Twins are playing volleyball? That is seriously one of my favorite sports to play since I came on a mission and played it almost every day in the MTC. So amazing! Happy anniversary too! Thank you for making the decision to get married in the temple and bless our lives as kids for eternity. My current missionary companion and I are totally different, but we have learned to love each other because we have the same goals. He only has 4 weeks left until he goes home...so many thoughts in regards to that that I cannot put it on paper. I always had wanted to change him. Not because I thought he was bad, but just to help him be better. However, that picture we have back home over the fireplace, which wasn't a favorite picture of mine before, has now become my favorite picture for learning how to become a Christ-like leader and accept people. Look at the photo for awhile and then tell me next week what your thoughts are relating to your comments about teaching not by law and enforcement, but really by love and example. (feel free to quote me in your class...though I did pretty good with that quote... just kidding...humility... ;) ) you and dad absoluteluy taught me by example and I am who I am because of you. A few conversations I've had with missionaries: they ask why I am the way I am as we speak of how to improve and ask each other this same question. All I could honestly say is that I am who I am because of incredible parents (and some amazing friends along the way) and the hand of the Lord molding me. I really don't have any claim on my character other than to shrug my shoulders and point heaven-ward. Thank you for being that perfect example I needed to have.
This last week was the last week of transfer 2 in the field! Time is going by so fast and these last 6 weeks flew by. No doubt the next 4 weeks will pass quickly as we are preparing to send off Elder Harvey back to the faux life we call the real world. For all you who didnt know (and though jokingly I say this in all seriousness) Missionary work is real life. Life eternal is coming to know our Father, His Son, and being sanctified by yielding to the enticements of the Holy Ghost. All other lives are meaningful opportunities to prepare ourselves to assume our true roll as divine heirs of a Heavenly King. (see John 17:3 and Mosiah 3:19) and Choose Eternal Life. (John is a book found on the Bible and Mosiah is a book found in the Book of Mormon. The Bible is a record of writings from Israel region and Book of Mornon is a record from people that left Israel and lived in the Americas from 2300 BC - 500 AD)
Specifically on progress of our work, this week we had investigators come to church finally. After weeks of "maybes" we finally got them to come! Prayer and fasting really do work! Also, we were able to meet with an elderly lady in our branch named Valentina Sosnovskia. In getting to know her and her story, it was incredible to see all the sacrifices she had gone through to be here in the church. Some members here that I know had choices between their husband and church, work and church, or even live as they had lived. However, all these members notwithstanding the trials they faced pre-, and during, and post-baptism are still going strong. Yes, a lot of members have fallen away here, but that's why we never forget them and go to the rescue, whether baptized or not. Specifically this sister was baptized when I was 4 years old...and Heavenly Father knew that I would be there that night in the freezing, windy outskirts of Donets'k (it's starting to get just a little cold here, but no snow yet) and that we would be able to comfort, support, and give this woman a blessing through his Holy priesthood. We are in His hands, and His hands are in the details.
I love you all so much and have such a strong testimony of this work. I wasn't the best me I could be this last week and didn't do all that I can, but God is merciful, and after feeling the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the sweet taste of repentance. I am ready for a new week. After partaking of the sacrament and repenting and renewing your covenents, I hope you are all too.
Thank you so much for your advice and for all that you are as an example to me. Every night when I go to bed I look at my name badge and ask myself these questions before reporting to the Lord:
Elder: How have I represented my priesthood this day?
Claypool: How have I represented my family and all they do for me?
Church: How have I represented the beliefs and conduct of the Church, President Monson, President Pitcher, members and ward?
Saints: How have I represented the believing saints from Adam till now who have sacrificed for me?
Latter-Day Saints: How have I represented those who pay their precious tithing funds, and pioneers that died, and those that sacrifice in this world today?
Jesus Christ: How Have I represented my Savior this day? The question I dwell on the most.
I'm trying to work on accountability to the Lord and just making sure that that which he gives me to handle I carry out. (in principle this looks great, I just need to work on doing it ;)
You did tell me about the Book of Mormon reading in 19 days! That is so crazy! Im trying to read it in the next three months (a struggle for me since I dont prefer reading fast ;) and then the rest of the standard works all next year (Six pages a day).
To all -- with all the love I can give...from the land of cold.....and then on top of it the love given me from Heavenly Father,
Elder Claypool :)