Sunday, December 23, 2012
Well I'm glad to hear that everything is all right with you! That's a little spooky, but I'm grateful for medications. I received the package too! and opened it excitedly to find that all was wrapped...tricky but seriously, doesn't the mission take enough patience?! ;) I'm super excited to talk to you all in a week or two. I'm also glad to hear all is good with you.
Yep, its finally here: winter. -15 C was pretty cold last night on the streets contacting and tracting, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to be more in the Christmas Spirit and also to show our diligence to Heavenly Father. This last week was pretty quick and abnormal because most of the time was spent preparing Elder Harvey for the trek home. He was super nervous and we were inside a lot this last week, and it made me think of going home a lot this last week, however, the Lord again is helping me get refocused and figuring out my next steps to let the mission go through me. One of the greatest blessings of my mission thus far has been seeing Elder Harvey change. I came to an Elder who completely thought of his mission as a failure of prophecy and a black mark int he history of his existence. I was able to say goodbye to an Elder that I loved with all my heart, who was at peace completely, tattered and broken, but not for one second giving up. We were so lucky to spend the darkest moments of his life together and then see the horizon climbing back out of the holes. The wisest counsel that I received in regards to helping him when I was banging my head on a wall and knees on the ground trying to figure out how I can help him was from you actually: Only the Savior can truly help people change; we can try, but not succeed. People are to be loved and always to be invited to Christ through our own coming unto Christ. We invite through example, and help them receive and accept that which the Lord has given us to continue forward. And from this incredible missionary I learned diligence. What an incredible missionary! He will be missed!
After we said goodbye to him at the airport at 4am in the morning ( that was a tiring day after that ;) I was thinking a lot about my mission and what to do, and then I was able to have an incredible conversation with an older missionary who was able to help me realize that I have a lot to look forward to and need to take control of my mission. I'm entering chapter 3 of this once in a lifetime novel of my mission. I'm staying in my area and will be till mid-February, and in a three-some with a Ukrainian who speaks no English and our district leader. Thursday I receive my new companion to continue the work forward. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that the Lord is in charge ad that we are in his hands. His hands are in the makings. I love you all and I am 9 hours ahead of you. if I call you late at night it will be morning in Hawaii. we only have one more P-day to figure it out, so figure out a concrete time and then let me know...hopefully it will work for me. Almost all day the 25th we should be inside to do festivities in Ukraine ;)
Love you and can't wait to talk to you all!
Posted by Contacting Elder Claypool at 6:17 PM
That's good to hear that the package has finally arrived! I was a little worried, but not too much. I haven't heard anything of your package, but I'm sure it will come. Keep up the amazing work at your calling and the amazing work that you do as a mom. There is a lady in my ward who has a huge family even for Ukraine and her sons are pretty...crazy ;) We were able to have a good talk about how even though now it may seem like they are not going anywhere that eventually they will realize the influence that righteous parents had on them. I was able to use you and dad as prime examples. I'm so grateful that you chose to stay active in this church because there are so many parents here who are less active and in their own self-interest are leading their family away from the only way to eternal happiness. It is amazing to me to testify on the streets that yes, I have a forever-family. (and that forever will be a wonderful time with them too ;))
This last week I was able to learn a very important lesson. I had a split with one of the Assistants to the president and was able to learn so much and talk about all these questions that I had, and also see what kind of a missionary I want to become. Elder Mironchenko (born in Russia, moved to us, and was baptized 2 years ago) is an incredible example! I was wondering why here in my area that we would receive all these contacts and have all this work to do and yet seemingly see little to no success. We've had little success here and there, but nothing very large. Without directly addressing the topic, he said these words: "How can we expect the Lord to bless us with more, if we cannot even take care of that what he has given us." He wont place his precious sons and daughters into our hands unless he know that we will do our part as representatives of his Son in helping them become converted. I haven't been very diligent. However, this gives me a new goal to work towards...to earn the trust of my Heavenly Father.
With Elder Harvey going home and a new Elder in our district it was a pretty crazy week in just firsts that have never happened before: We have been blessed to use the priesthood a lot in bringing the sacrament to bed-ridden members, blessings of comfort and healing, and even using the authority of the priesthood and calling of a missionary to make promises to these people in the Name of Jesus Christ literally speaking on behalf of him. I was able to go on a spilt with the new elder from Harkov, Ukraine and pretty much spoke nothing but Russian with him the entire 28 hours (yeah I even talk in Russian when I sleep ;). At church we had two new investigators at church and are working with the members a little better too! The mission is changing and there are a lot of opportunities to grumble and groan......but that's not the kind of disciples the Lord needs. I had the opportunity to play the piano in primary (a Sunday school class I can understand...for the most part ;) ) and got to give my first sacrament talk to prepare the way for President Campero's talk. I love that man so much! He's so inspired. My companion goes home Saturday and so this week will be a lot of preparing for that.
I'm not the perfect missionary and most of the things I lack on are because of my own choices to not do things I know I should. But this next week, I am going to be more diligent and true to what I know. It is worth it to love those who seemingly are not worth loving.
I love you all so much family! My family forever!
Love you and Merry Christmas!
Posted by Contacting Elder Claypool at 6:12 PM
As for this week, i have a really cool story to share with you:
It was a pretty busy week this week in Ukraine with a lot of miracles working with members, and also Satan working on me really hard to destroy the support and unity with my companion. He's only got 12 days left and Satan is working 24/7 (speaking of, there were two nights this week without electricity that we ended up having to go to the store to buy candles and only having Christmas candles to choose from...it was a good memory!) So, needless to say, there was a lot that happened this week. One instance in particular was one of the coolest spiritual prompting stories I've had: We had a lesson with a member in the branch one night that lived only 15 min bus ride from our apartment. We walked to his place but the weirdest thought before we rang his door came to mind: "cancel the meeting." This member wasn't inactive, but wasn't super active or has many friends in the branch so I though it wouldn't be the best to cancel...plus I didn't know what my companion would think. But after fighting with myself I told my companion I felt that we should cancel with him for some reason I didnt know and then my wonderful companion trusting me called him and canceled the meeting. That is trust in my opinion, especially because being on a lesson is so much better at times than contacting or tracting when you're not in a good mood. He trusted me nonetheless. Upon calling him, we found out that he was doing a remodeling of his apartment and couldn't anyways, so at least that worked out, however, the Lord didn't not want us there so that we didn't interrupt the remodel. We thought that it would be good to maybe go visit our less-actives who actually lived in the next complex. We had already scheduled an appointment with this less-active the following Saturday, but decided to go there anyways. Not only was she there, and let us in, but her nephew, Nestor, who lives in a remote area of our area with his non-member mom and grandma who wont let us meet with him, was there too. I definitely doubted that it was a prompting at first, but when we are seeking to do right and simply follow what the Lord inspires us to do, even when we do not now 100% if it is a prompting, He will not leave us wanting. He's definitely helping us here in Ukraine and everywhere too!
I love you all!
PS- not cold at all and just rainy here :)
Posted by Contacting Elder Claypool at 6:10 PM
Hey family! I hope that you enjoy the thanksgiving pictures! It was super fun as my missionary family...wasn't as tasty as moms cooking, but when you have to make pumpkin pies from scratch, are eating Bolivian empinadas from Sister Campero, and your mission president is wearing an Indian head dress...you must be in Ukraine :)
Also, congrats to all the babies and moms, and family, and all. Its an exciting time of life for us all.
As the weeks go on its crazy to think how fast time flies...and I feel like I say that in every email, but it really does. This week I was able to try holodets which is essentially the gelatin, frozen chicken noodle soup that is so famous (or rather infamous) in this part of the world. It was pretty...well lets just say that I am grateful for the fact that there is always bread and additives on a Ukrainian table ;) We actually have incredible members here in the area, and as we try to get to know them better, our relationships improve and sooner rather than later, we are spiritually fed...and physically too ;) I did try to make your rolls for thanksgiving this week and they so weren't as good, but still reminded me of you.
Thanksgiving was indeed fun with all of the Donetsk zone, a ton of turkey, and odds and ends...it was pretty good for the fact that missionaries filled all the cooking assignments minus the turkey. So much fun! We really have incredible missionaries here in our mission...best in the world for this mission in my opinion. ;)
For anyone, there are things that we want to accomplish in this life. There are desires and dreams that we all have, but the question can sometimes be how we turn desires into determination and then to destinations. This last week for the beginning of the week I was pretty lazy, really didn't want to do my best, and as a result, I wasn't my best. Be your best self and do not settle. The Lord needs us to be who we were meant to be by submitting ourselves to him and giving our desires to him. He knows best. Set goals that reflect your desires, plan how to accomplish them, determinedly execute those plans, and then reap the rewards with the Help of the Lord. (aka PMG ch 8 ;) ) So then the question becomes "What are my desires?" Whatever they be, remember these two doctrines: (1) the Lord has given us the incredible power of choice to chose when our desires may be less than what they should. (2) The Spirit is there to plant righteous desires into our hearts. Align your desires to your destiny!
I Love you all
Posted by Contacting Elder Claypool at 6:03 PM