Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Послушание, всегда и везде -- Obedience, always and everywhere" April 8, 2013

Dear Family,

I think it is I who should be thanking you and dad for all you did in raising me! I thought a lot about this yesterday and the days before and a feeling of gratitude came over me. It was quite humbling really. You see, I was thinking about my birthday and all that it meant, knew that pretty much only my companion knew about it and I wasn't going to go around telling people it was my birthday. Naturally I was thinking, "man...this day isn't really going to be about me that much is it? It's a Fast & Testimony Sunday...so no birthday breakfast even. Well, we don't have time to really cook anything special because we're busy anyway, and probably no one knows it is my day." Soon after thinking about me, the Lord taught me my lesson that day:

In our zone conference my companion taught us all brilliantly about the meaning of the words "unprofitable servant." He drew a diagram illustrating what King Benjamin had written. Imagine that on this diagram there is Heavenly Father and You. There is one arrow from Heavenly Father to you with the caption "Life and the condition to keep the commandments". Then as we try to keep the commandments (or in other words the arrow from us to Heavenly Father) another arrow is drawn from Him to us with the caption "immediate blessings." In pondering about this I realized how backwards we have it on our own birthdays. We did nothing really but come into the world, and yet we celebrate ourselves as if it were some kind of accomplishment. I'm not saying we should forgo celebrations or anything like that...mainly because I still enjoy them too much and I love birthdays! Smiley face. But, really if we take the time to think about it, our  birthday is a day in which we should give more to others for that which others gave to us. Mainly it should be us giving more to God and our parents for the life they give us. So, on my birthday I thank you mom, dad, and my Heavenly Father for all you did in giving me this opportunity to live and learn. This is the purpose of our lives in losing ourselves for the sake of other's welfare. The coolest thing is, we find ourselves...that is, we find ourselves at that potential which we are capable of attaining.

Thank you so much for your letters! I really enjoyed them and laughed super hard when I read dad's jokes. In regards to MaKormick,  I am so proud of him! He's starting to really listen to the Spirit and that is how he is learning. It is interesting that in the Gospel we can learn and learn and learn, but until the Holy Ghost takes it from our head to our heart (and only He can) then we really haven't learned anything. That really is the key that you told Korm too...or that he told himself.

Haley's quote on my birthday related to it super well. It talked about how the greatest lesson we can learn in life is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. I think of the Savior and his obedience. In my interview with President Podvodov, our acting mission President before President Campero returned, (which by the way was all in Russian) he said something that is just classic for this man: "Obedience, always and everywhere"  (sounds cooler when you say it in Russian by the way). Really, it's like dad always said the two most important words are: "Obedience" and "Repentance". Obedience, because if we are obedient, we will do all we are supposed to when we are supposed to and receive all the blessings of God because of it. Repentance, because as we all know, WE AREN'T PERFECT! Thank you so much for your support and always helping me see the better. I am improving and the Lord is really blessing me with that.

On Friday I was able to share the same message I shared with all of you on Easter with all the missionaries at our zone conference, but what was more, the Lord filled my mouth and gave me confidence to do so since the entire conference was in Russian. Like Korm, when the Zone Leader's Council made the decision that we all must speak 100% Russian outside the apartment with a few exclusions, I was a little protiv. (That means "against it" in Russian...there are so many words that others will just have to know in Russian when I return home because they are a part of my vocab now)  But the thoughts always were: "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven" and how true that is. We have sacrificed comfort, maybe understanding, and even the ease of feeling the spirit and receiving promptings in English as we have gone to just speaking Russian in the mission. However large the sacrifice, it will be worth it. Every choice in this life is a sacrifice in the end: Either sacrificing what matters at the moment for what matters most, or sacrificing the greatest blessings available for that which is readily on display. When the conference was about 3/4 of the way over, I sat there and this feeling of sheer joy came over me as I realized that for the last 3.5 hours we, English speaking missionaries, had been speaking the language we were called by the Lord to speak. That's true doctrine.

I love you. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever forget that.

Elder Claypool  

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