Yes the weather here is very nice now. Thank you so much for your letter this week...it is always so strengthening to see the strength that the Lord gives his servants. I thought this last week that even if they did pay all the people who served in the church, it wouldnt make a difference...only the grace of God could help us fullfill our roles and callings in this great work.
Thank you so much for your advice on ward council...we are still a really far ways from that with a pretty young priesthood, but we will get there before the stake is built. The more we can be exposed to where other missions are, the more we would be able to catch a vision and go towards it. Do you think you could scan a Progress Record for me and send it just so I could see it to see where we could improve? That would be wonderful! We are working on improving member relations as you know, and getting our correlation meetings and ward councils in order are the first step.
This last week was pretty amazing in all reality but also pretty hard...but I do feel like although I always seem to feel like I'm not doing my best, I also realize that the more I am on a mission, the higher "my best" gets. Being grateful has really aided me in this quest for fulfilling the mandate of our prophet last conference to become more profitable servants in the Lord's vineyard.
I just wanted to share a story about one less active family we have that we are working with: Andrei Ivanov is a wonderful man who served as a branch president about 10 years ago. Due to a change in the mission, the Brethren decided to combine two branches and as a result he was not called as the next branch president. With his pride blinding his vision Brother Andrei left the church with his wife and 1 year old daughter and hasnt come back since. Here's where we come in. We started to visit them with the excuse of just getting to know them...and we have started to see some progress. This last lesson we were able to come out and say that we had prayed a long time and felt like we received revelation for them specifically....with this foundation of a lesson, we were able to be very straight forward and teach truth that would burn its course through the heart: Forgiveness of self. So many people in the world do not forgive themselves. Many of our less-actives leave the church for such small, meaningless reasons, and by the time comes to return years down the road, their pride says "no, God will not forgive me, the members will not forgive me, and I cannot forgive myself." We
taught the lesson, the Spirit presided, and by the end they knew exactly what we were implying and
what we were asking them to do: Put the past behind, believe not only in Christ but actually believe Christ (meaning to trust that he will forgive if we repent and remember it no more), and to forgive yourself. We talked about Alma the Younger and the shear fact that if Alma had not forgiven himself, where would half of the some of the most doctrinally based chapters of the Book of Mormon be? They wouldn’t be good. At the end of the lesson, Brother Andrei asked if we could come by Saturday to do some service, in order to help them have the time to go to church Sunday. This made me so incredibly happy! We were convinced that the Lord would forgive him and that he could in the future forgive himself. Sadly, on Sunday when we shared the good news with the branch, some of the people denied all hope of that family returning saying that they had already put their effort and time in. They said It was hopeless for them. This is wrong. That very same doctrine taught in D&C 64 speaking of forgiveness and in us having the greater sin if we don’t forgive, applies here. When we don’t forgive, whether ourselves or others, especially when the Lord would freely forgive them, we
have the greater sin in that we deny the Atoning and transcending power of Jesus Christ's Atonement. I would hope that our members everywhere keep firmly in their mind the verses found in 3 Ne 18:32:
Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.
Thank you for you wonderful advice in strengthening the members here...they need it badly just as any of us do. To read all that you are doing with the missionaries is so incredibly amazing! It really makes me happier than ever to know that my family is a missionary family. There is no greater family than that. Elder Clarke, a member of the first quorum of the seventy said it well when he said: "Do you want an eternal family? Then do eternal things." I know that the work of the Lord is the work of the eternities: “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. If any family wants to be eternal, I would say that missionary work is just as much of a necessary aspect as is attendance of temple and church, daily reading the scriptures individually and together, and daily family and individual prayer. There is no greater work. As I sat pondering my call as a missionary and what it means to be an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, I was overwhelmed at the short amount of time the Lord has suffered me to be his representative. I am called to help all mankind return to Heavenly Father. I am called to strengthen His Church and the children of Zion. I was foreordained before this world, and in this world, I am seeking to make my calling and election made sure. I am called to call the wicked to repentance, and righteous to path of perfection. I am an imperfect representative of the Perfect One, and through His Grace, or Enabling power, I am becoming as He is and will stand before him and be like him. I am a missionary of Jesus Christ.
Let us continue to be witnesses of the Savior in all times, in all places, and in all things even until till death, especially as we represent him in his perfect mercy and not his perfect justice, for justice is God's and we are required to forgive all men.
Your Son, Elder Claypool