Sunday, May 5, 2013

“Remain Faithful, Don’t Judge, and Always Forgive” - April 29, 2013

Hello everyone,
Yes the weather here is very nice now.  Thank you so much for your letter this 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

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"To Know. To Do. and To Be." April 22, 2013

Good morning!

I love that in all the things that you (mom) could tell me and let me know, you talk about missionary work first and foremost. That really shows me just how much you are in the right direction. This week was pretty busy for me too since we had a transfer meeting, a new transfer, I received a new companion (Elder Carley from Utah - an amazingly humble elder!), planning for the zone, the district (as in the future-stake), and our own area. There have been a lot of times this week when I was just super tired after really straining myself. However, it is exciting! There is no greater feeling than looking back on a day, being dead tired, and knowing that you did what you could in following the Lord.

Of course I look back and when I compare what I did with a General Authority or Mission President it's really nothing, but I still feel like the Lord is trusting me more and more as I seek His grace in becoming a more profitable servant in His hands.

Heavenly Father can say about every one of his children: "This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am pleased," for as a loving Father, it doesn't take much for Him to be pleased with us if we try. He is so loving. But.. I want him to say unto me: "You are one of my beloved sons in whom I am well-pleased."

We've been doing a lot of work in preparing our mission for the next step of perfecting the work with the members by simply applying what is written in the Preach My Gospel manual. It's absolutely incredible that the Lord would bless us 18,19, 20 year old kids with revelation that can change the history of a country if applied right. How privileged we are! How much He trusts much we could trust others more.

This last week we had some rougher moments in seeking to raise the bar (challenge ourselves more). We have a lot of people who will give out their numbers, receive the message with lukewarm relations and not really progress. These are not who we are called to teach. We are called to teach those who are prepared to hear, not be forced to baptism. So, we've been raising the bar of contacts and investigators with the promise from our mission president that if we let go of those who are not progressing, we will receive a new investigator who is ready for every one we let go. It happened. We let go of two investigators who for various reasons we felt were not ready or accepting or progressing, and literally that day, we gained one new investigator who called us, set up with us, went to a baptismal service, and just was incredibly interested and humble. Even yesterday we were coming back from a high-council meeting (we were translators in the meeting) and a crazy lady stopped us, and said we were beautiful and she moved got weirder as a drunk man came up to us asking where his friend was that passed away that started to seem like a movie. On top of this conversation a lady came up to us asking if we could carry her bags to her home which wasn't far away. So talking with this drunk man about the plan of salvation and life after death, and this lady walking along side listening, we carried her bag, talked to her for a second, and she even agreed to meet with us on her own accord! It was a miracle! The situation after that continued back on a very amusing path as that crazy old lady came back and started defending us and telling the drunk guy to improve and change his life in a very straight forward way...that was pretty funny...but because it can always get better... another drunk gentleman came up and yelled "What are you arguing about" to the crazy old lady and the  first drunk man (who were arguing loudly as we just stood there in shock of all that was happening so fast), and then the second drunk man proceeded to join in the argument...oh, how days are never boring here. People defend us.  Although it was a funny story, we really were blessed with this wonderful nice woman. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Elder Lukashuk is doing well from what I know. He even was so kind as to call me on my birthday and congratulate me. He's been to the temple to do baptisms and he is just flourishing. I'm going to send him a letter soon, but if you would like to send him a letter I can send you the address next time.

It's all true. We can talk about the teachings of the church and step back and ask ourselves, "do I really believe that?!"  That is when I step right back forward where I was, holding my ground, and say "Yes, I believe that." Although all my testimonies are a little more than simple beliefs, they are strengthening by the day. And by the fruits of the Gospel, I know this is from God. We all have that opportunity if we will just let ourselves experience it.'s last joke definitely made me laugh big time...especially since I have a University of Utah sweatshirt that I found and that I work out in...only to work out in though- ha ha.

It's super cool to hear that you'll be so close to Ukraine! Maybe you'll be able to feel the wave that is spreading over this part of the world with missionary work. It's pretty amazing. I really am starting to feel like a real missionary who is so blessed to do this work. I still have many things I don't do right and let my own self get in the way, but I really am starting to become a representative of Jesus Christ. It's all because of focusing more on: Preach My Gospel and the Scriptures (Preach My Gospel is a manual available to all members, not just missionaries) . Of course prayer plays a huge roll in such and all my incredible companions and circumstances, but really knowing and applying (which I would say to know is to have already applied and tasted the fruits) brings the change.

The Prophet and President Monson said something very interesting that I have come to know to be true in my life that really outlines the simple steps necessary to become what Heavenly Father would have us become: To Know. To Do. and To Be.

I still have that paper that you wrote us in priest quorum all those years ago that is all about becoming who we are meant to be, and I've referred back to it on my mission here.

First, however, is "to know". When we study the word, the word gives us desire, direction, and determination that is all carried to us via the Holy Ghost. We have so many opportunities to know something from our Heavenly Father thanks to ancient and modern scriptures, handbooks, manuals, internet, and so much more especially weekly attendance to church. We must first come to know.

Second we "must do". I love the quote by James Allen that says "Man is only subject to his circumstances until he realizes he is master over them." I have a firm belief that any excuse to not do will never be stronger than the eternal, God-given right we all have to choose. We have that sacred opportunity to, as Elder Holland put it regarding an olympic swimmer's mentality, "Kick when [we] don't want to kick, and stroke when [we] don't want to stroke." Some may call it pretending to be something we're not, but I call it practicing perfection, - and that is why we came here to this earth: To practice, to grow, to make mistakes, to learn.

However, there is a difference between "doing" and "being". We can do something only once and be categorized in the "doing" category, but in "being", that action is repeated not only once but comes from us naturally. That is a daunting task. But, that is a genuis of our character and the human body also, when we do, and do repeatedly, it becomes a part of us. Like one of the prophets had said after writing in a journal for 40-50 years, having started only because the prophet said to do so: "I feel like a fish out of water if I don't write in my journal before bed."  We have to commit to become what we want. What He wants.   If we only follow these steps, we can literally become all we were meant to be...and it all starts with doctrine. (see Alma chapter 31 verse 5)

Thanks for being so amazing and always making me smile! I love you and cannot wait to give you a huge hug when the day comes.

And pass my love to my wonderful siblings who will be even better missionaries than me!

Your Son, Elder Claypool