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 us...how 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 on...it got weirder as a drunk man came up to us asking where his friend was that passed away that day...it 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.
Wow...dad'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