Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Change is a constant for all" Feb. 11,2013

Good morning !

Well, I am in a new area and with a new companion...this one's from Germany! He is fantastic! Thankfully, he speaks fluent English so my brain gets to rest a little.

From last Wednesday a lot has happened in me and my focus, and I am so grateful to God for all that happened. In addition to these changes which can create discomfort of the unknown, I am blessed to take on additional responsibilities with more change. Right now I'm currently serving as 1 of 2 Zone Leaders in Donets'k with my companion, Elder Zacherl. When I was given this calling at our transfer meeting I was pretty shaken to say the least and did not at all expect it. I had an overwhelming feeling of duty come over me and just that I had now an even larger responsibility. Thankfully, the Lord doesn't let me sit in my own thoughts of incorrectness: The next thought was "why is it that now you feel a responsibility when the last 7 months of your mission you have been placed with a sacred calling to preach the Gospel?" Because of the calling to serve these missionaries, my determination, resilience, and desire to do my best has increased. For that reason, one of the things we are going to be talking about in our zone meeting with all the missionaries is what their calling really means. If I had truly understood the nature of my holy calling as a missionary, then I have no doubt that my dedication and determination, and consecration would have increased. I suppose everything takes time and that is why we learn precept upon precept and step-by-step, here a little and there a little. Like the righteous people of the Book of Mormon, we need to help all members keep in the forefront of their mind their duty and privilege to be such.

Another eye-opener for me this week was to sit on a council of leaders from all across the mission to give a reporting of our work and to receive, plan, and execute the will of the Lord for our mission. An incredible opportunity!

Thank you mom and dad for always being an incredible example to me and for being someone I can look to as an example of Christ-like leadership.

I love you. Glad that all your conferences and firesides went well!

Random fact:
In Russian, the word for rich (bugati) deals with receiving riches from God, or having his riches. Truly without God, we are not truly rich.

A good one-liner from our mission right now is ----- Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Elder MaKade C Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"The Holy Ghost is available to us" - FEB. 6,2013

Hello everyone,

Last Sunday, in Ukraine, being from America, I helped translate from Russian to English the Sunday School gospel lesson for the Ukrainian teacher to an investigator from Ghana and also to a member from Mexico who actually lives in Canada. Sounds like the United Nations? There is no boundary too large for the Lord. REMEBER and belive that God really can do everything IF WE HAVE FAITH. It was fun and inspirational and the Holy Spirit testified of the truth in every language.

Sorry that I forgot to tell you that our preparation day was on Wednesday this past week! I forgot. I'm being transferred to a new city! It's a little bitter-sweet, but even still very exciting. Elder Lukashuk and I between the last 2 weeks have had the opportunity to get 3 Ukrainian people on date to be baptized and they are very promising, wonderful people. Isn't that exciting! One of the men and his wife are expecially dear to my heart. In fact, with them, I've learned a lot about the Doctrine of Christ. Alexander and Nina have been through a lot lately where they did not have the doctrine of Christ in their life. Because of it they had a lot of marriage problems that led to them being separated. However, the Gospel is mending their family and faith. When I was on a lesson with Nina ( because we always have taught them separately) she talked so much about how she feels this anger and darkness always in her heart. However, when reading the scriptures, coming to church, and praying, she feels this instant relief.

As is the Lord's way, this last transfer, I too have struggled with these feelings of lack of the Spirit. One lesson we were talking about was the gift of the Holy Ghost in regards to the influence of it. With a standard definition answer, I taught that we can always have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost...however, as I said that, I thought to myself, "is it really possible to have the Holy Ghost and those feelings of peace and joy with us always?" I had thought at first, no, because I had not managed to attain that...and then the Lord taught me. I testified that it was possible and then in the coming days especially during and after my fasting, prayers, and partaking of the sacrament in particular, a desire to "receive the Holy Ghost" was realized by me. The Doctrine of Christ acts just as I learned this transfer with these wonderful brothers and sisters: when Unapplied, the Doctrine of Christ is no more meaningful to the individual than blank sheets of paper. When Abinadai spoke to the wicked priest of Noah, they too had an issue with understanding the doctrines of Christ laid out plainly in the scriptures. Abinadai's response? "Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding..." (Mosiah 12:27). Elder Bednar has taught (even in the last general conference I think), about the diference between conversion unto Christ and a testimony. If I could teach anything to the members of the Church it is that there are essentially two phases of the Doctrine of Christ: testimony and conversion. Testimony is meant to lead to conversion, not to be a stopping point just as much as mere faith in Jesus Christ is not enough. People are plauged with the teachings that to believe in your heart is all that matters. No. This faith in Christ leads us to the changing of direction and perspective of repentance. We cannot just believe. We have to do. This repentance leads to the desire to covenant with God through the sacred waters of baptism in order to further our sanctification and justification by the Gift of the Holy Ghost. However, as a member of the Church I relied on the baptismal covenant made at age 8 rather than the continual pondering, and renewing, and recovenanting that comes as a result of the sacred sacrament. In regards to the Holy Ghost, I realized that as an individual, I relied on the influence of the Holy Ghost, meaning I was waiting for the special moments when the Holy Ghost testified to me, or when I heard somethng that brought the spirit, and just in general, letting the spirit come to me rarely, and as if I was an investigator with out the Gift of the Holy Ghost having already been endowed on my head having the rights to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost if I fulfilled the law to "Receive" Him. Like Abinidai said, if we do not apply these principles in our lives, they mean nothing to us. They are not a part of us and yes, while they may bring strong powerful testimonies, they will never bring lasting conversion. The purpose of our probationary period on the earth would have been for naught, and the conversion that you could have received if you had taken the time to apply what you knew to be true never came. The Doctrine of Christ is given to us to use the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to become and fulfill all that we are capable and have a God-given right to pursue. It starts with the seriousness of our studies, prayers, the sincerity of our daily repentance, the sacredness of the sacrament, and how well we fulfill our covenants to seek after the Holy Ghost and rightfully attain the power of God in our lives.

The focus this last week has really been a lot on the Holy Ghost, the baptismal covenant, and my willingness to follow the Savior. Truly, Baptism is the gate in order to gift us our only fighting chance in becoming what we can become. I have come to realize, actually by teaching an investigator and less active about it, that only through the Holy Ghost can we have the constant peace and presence of that member of the Godhead. One of our less-actives went through a pretty crazy trial with his health after being less-active for quite awhile. We were with him in the dialysis clinic, and witnessed the cleansing power of the Sacrament, and then saw him beaming from eye to eye when we came to him last Saturday. His question: "I sit at home all day and it's not very easy for me to feel that inspiration that drives me to do what I should. (That sounded familiar)" The spirit was my response, and then the question from him " Then how can I have that with me?"

Time has become my best friend too... ;) I'm still struggling with the balance between using every second of every day more effective (because we lose a lot of time every day from extra studying, being late, taking too long planning, etc) and being peaceful.

I know that the Lord is so patient with us and that he loves us. Your testimony still rings in my ears from Christmas :"I know the Lord is so patient with me." How I want to be better for him and all of you!

Elder MaKade C Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission


Thank you so much for your letter and I apologize for the shortness of my letter. Elder Lukashuk says hi and that he loves you all so much.
This last week was a week of miracles. We put our first investigator on date, and then on top of that, we had a really miraculous experience with our investigator trying to quit smoking, giving him a blessing, and him coming to church. Don't know if he's quit yet. Find out tonight. Also, We have an investigator named Nina who's husband left her two years ago. She is a sweet heart and has such a sincere testimony of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Ghost's comfort. Through simply the Lord's hand, we were able to also meet with the husband who want to return, is simply lacking the courage of leaving his current lady, but sincerely wants to be baptized...however not till after he gets the whole family thing figured out. We've been praying and fasting and Sunday was a day of miracles: They both (Nina and Alexander her husband) came to church together, President Campero happened to be there and we had an incredible sit down chat with President and them, following an incredible sacrament meeting about the temple and eternal families, and then had the privilege to be with President and voice a blessing from Heavenly Father for Alexander. The Lord knows us and cares for us. I know that.

Also we got stuck in an elevator for 30 minutes...but luckily we had food ;)

I love you all so much and thank you for your example mom. Keep going to the rescue!
Elder Claypool