Sunday, June 30, 2013

"In doing this work, we must act in love!" - June 30, 2013

This last week I had the opportunity to be in the beautiful old city of Kharkov, Ukraine.  It was my first time and quite amazing to see the difference in Donetsk and this city. Here there are cobbled streets in the main square, a subway system that made me think of Disneyland, and plenty of incredible members, missionaries, and our brothers and sisters who haven't yet accepted the Gospel. I was able to be on exchanges with tons of missionaries here and most of all I was able to be submersed in this people. They are so kind and mean so much to me. One of the most amazing things this week was being able to see Andrei Lukashuk and Ina his new wife at their reception that just happened to be the night we got in town. What a blessing it was to see him and her so happy-the product of righteous Gospel living. They will be sealed in the temple at the end of the year. It was my first time really on a "Ukraine-train", in a different city, and with a lot of growth that happened. The Lord is blessing me more than I deserve especially since I am so imperfect. The role of the Assistant will change hugely when President Lochhead comes, and I would pray that I can be all that you wrote in your email.

The greatest thing that I was able to do this last week was to become more dedicated to the work. I was just fighting with myself...well I guess I was fighting more the Spirit. The Lord wasn't giving up on me, but instead he was continuing to fight with my natural man and pull me out. What helped me? Well honestly it was a good solid sit-down scripture study about obedience, a lot of personal choice, and an exchange with an incredibly Christ-like elder named Elder Harrison. There were so many miracles that we saw talking to people who had prayed us to them, fasting with investigators that I had only met, being in a different area every night, and yet having every experience clearly mapped out for my personal growth. One thing that I have not been able to say up until this point in my mission is that I love my mission, this country, or all the people. Yes, I loved those who loved me...but as Christ said even the pharisees loved those who loved them. So, I've set out on a quest of love. A quest to gain an abiding testimony that my Heavenly Father loves me, that I love myself, and that I love my neighbor. This country is incredible, the people themselves are the epitome of enduring to the end. I love them.

One experience from this week shows their endurance:

We were in an area called "Novie Doma" inviting people to an open house. There were some very nice people, some not too nice people, and people who just weren't ready. We followed the Spirit, opened our mouths as we covenanted to do so, and had many miracles. An old lady was sitting on a bench when we received the prompting to go and talk to her after receiving the prompting earlier to walk her way. We sat down instantly when she upon seeing us exclaimed: "The Lord answered my prayer! I saw you earlier, prayed that you'd come, and here you are!" She had just had a run in with missionaries of another religion and was flipping through their materials when we found her. We were able to talk to her, teach her about the restoration, and invite her to church. She told us about her past, the difficulties and the hardships that came because of the old soviet union where they taught even in schools that God did not exist. But this old lady along with hundreds of old ladies who believed dearly in God were the real pioneers in this country. Not because they faced the trials of the Latter-day Saints now, but because when it was by law forbidden to believe in God, they still in secret faithfulness kept Satan from completely controlling this country. Because of her, her family knows who Jesus Christ is, what the importance of Him in our lives are, and loves God, as she expressed with tearful eyes. Upon the backs of faithful children of God this country has hope.

These are my people. I love them with all my love a person it helps to understand them. With understanding comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness even greater love. I could spend the rest of my life among these people serving them and helping the church to grow here...of course a wife and family would be a bonus...okay necessity ;) But if the Lord calls, I would with all my heart do all that I can; - and I do not forget that the Lord has already called. There's not only planning for future service in my heart, but day to day Christ-like kindness that drives me to open my mouth and declare our message of the Restoration. What an incredible work we are all called to as we beautifully saw from the broadcast. Who can we work with in our family?

I love you with all my heart! Like Elder Nelson said at least 10 times during the broadcast: In doing this work, we must act in love. So let's show a little more love to the world that needs it far more than anything else. Thanks for being an evidence to me that my Father in Heaven loves me.

In general it was an incredible week that I really dont have words nor time to explain it all...but that is why I pray every night before writing in my daily journal: so that I can express my thoughts and feelings to all that will have a chance to read it on a day to day basis. I love you mom so much and am more than pleased that the Gospel is even more become the center of our home. Thank you for doing the work of the Lord. Its the only thing that matters in this life. 

Elder Claypool

PS - our new mission President Lochhead and his wife come in this Saturday and then time really starts to fly!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Slowly etched into my soul" June 23,2013

Hello mom! 

I'm glad to see that you are keeping busy in the service too! One motto that I'm trying to adopt is that I am always busy, but never too busy. It's pretty easy to have so much to do that the Spirit can't guide us or our schedules don't allow us to do small acts of service that change eternities. People are important, I'm learning. 

This last week was pretty quick with lots to do, but at the same time, feeling like we didn't do anything. Specifically I am grateful for the Spirit's ruthless patience with me these last few weeks and the quiet, recurring promptings I received that prepared me for some major moments of my life this week. First was in a zone meeting in Donetsk. They had us all hold our breaths for 1 min and 10 seconds. It was pretty difficult but I managed to do it...timed seemed to go by so slow. Then they had two elders from 1 min and 10 seconds fix a Rubik cube. Those 1 min and 10 seconds flew by incredibly fast. The moral: Are we in our lives surviving or thriving? They took a string and wrapped it around all of us in the audience representing our life span. It was a really long rope. And then they showed us what our mission looked like. Then they took out time for sleep and food...the rope was incredibly short...and then they gave us each a small clipping of thread that represented this current transfer. With that small amount of time, we could influence millions of eternities if we simply did what the Lord would ask and thrive, not merely survive. I am so grateful that for the first time in my life I feel like I can honestly say that I love my mission. I love this work and really I am starting to become converted to it. A quiet fortitude is coming into my life that has been slowly etched into my soul over the course of times and experiences with the sharp but tender tool of the Spirit. I am beginning to thrive in doing the work of the Lord and becoming more dedicated to doing the Lord's will and not being one who says "Lord, lord," but doing nothing close to fulfilling his will. 

The second thing I feel was a huge turning point in my mission and existence was this weeks mission conference. I was able to see so many members of the church that I have so dearly grown to love. I was able to simply love them. How inexplicably  wonderful is the feeling to purely love a person without any subliminal or self-seeking motives of your own. I felt a little more like the Savior those days. At the conference we were treated to have President and Sister Bennett from the East European Area Presidency there as well as President Ulysses Soares and his wife, one of the Presidents of the Seventy. It was incredible to hear just how they loved this people and the country. For anyone out there who may think that Russia, Ukraine or any of the post-soviet countries and their peoples are anything less than the beautiful children and creations of God that they are, I invite you to repent as I had to invite myself to do. These people are so incredibly incredible that have gone through so much with millions that died because of Satan's cruel, murderous hand to wipe the children of Israel off the face of the earth. Their country is flowering and blooming with so many trees and flowers that anything dirty, old, or dilapidated does not compare with beauty of what they really are. I love this people and I love this land. I could honestly spend the rest of my life here helping the Church and gathering this was I called. 

The General Authorities put into words all that the Spirit had been etching into my heart with clarity and resolve that comes from being sent from God Himself. I have realized this weekend just what it means to be a covenant keeping person. I learned what joy comes from fulfilling your covenants; not just doing them, but fulfilling them. It is interesting that when we fill our lives with covenants, we inturn are fulfilled, or full-filled, in our goals and purposes of existing. To be driven by a divine knowledge that you have made covenants with God Almighty is to be a disciple of that he can trust. However, I learned that this is, like all things a choice. 

God gave us free agency to act. It is that simple. We catch a vision, set some goals, get on our knees with requests to receive, and then we go to work, evaluating our steps as we go. Agency is a remarkable gift. Its so amazing to me to think that when I signed the paper to serve the Lord and sent it to his prophet, I covenanted to fulfill His purpose, Work, and Glory. I didnt realize that until now...or rather it just hasn't clicked. 

So I need to shape up, continue to be myself, and realize that I have so much more to give. I am a representative of Jesus the Christ...and like Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles stated in response to the question "how can we come to know the Savior like you do?" said: "In order to know the Lord, we have to serve Him, - and in order to know Him better, we have to serve Him better." 

It's pretty cool what a few hours of the Spirit and years of experience can do to you. That's why I am so grateful for the Spirit in my Him everything just clicks at some time or another. And when it does...well, that's what we call a mighty change of heart. I hope you can feel a sense of just how much I am coming to love the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Im coming to love the people the same. Im not quite there with loving myself to be honest, but I'll get their too. 

I love you Mom! and all of course who may read this.

Till next week!
Elder Claypool

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"time is short, but we have it to make the most of it." - June 10, 2013

Hello mom!
Thank you for your letter and for all that you are doing for our Heavenly Father. More than anything I am always happiest when I am able to read about your sacrifices and efforts to do just what I have the privilege of doing every day. It's so wonderful to hear that all my friends are returning from their's just crazy to think that over a year ago I was just starting the mission...and a year from today I will be home. This time is too short, but we have it to make the most of it. Tell the twins that they are wonderful and that I am sending them letters since I was so behind on everything. But I love you all so much! Dad is definitely an amazing man! 

So, because of my schedule with not having an area and really having the whole mission as my area....its kind of hard to give stories that are specific or about investigators. The majority of this last week was literally just planning. We became secretaries this week it seemed like in planning for President Soares of the seventy coming this Sunday, President Campero leaving, and we pretty much planned out by the hour what President Lochhead's first week in the mission will be like. So we've done a lot of that and it was pretty difficult. It was mainly difficult because there is so much to know and often so little time....but Elder Butterworth is absolutely amazing, wise, and way ahead of his years. I learn from him every day and am so grateful for him. In general, our daily schedules are just what we make them to be. Sometimes we are in different cities, in the office, with President Campero till 9:30 at night, and sometimes we're just trying to lift the missionaries. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to go back to my old branch in my first area and to be greeted by Nina, her granddaugther, and all the members that I had grown to love. They didn't remember my name, but I could see a light of recognition and love in their eyes and that was so fulfilling. 
We also had the opportunity to have the first Mission Leadership Council with the new Sister Training Sisters. It was a little crazy being at the head of the table when I just came to that council a few months ago...but I can testify that the Lord is in the wood-work of this mission. He is guiding us and preparing us all. I wasn't as diligent in general as I could have been this week, but with the sacrament as my reset button and a desire to know my duty and fulfill it, I am ready for this new chapter of service in my life. Thank you for your support and giving me the drive to be better. Tell them all happy birthday again from me!

Elder Claypool

PS. Kolya is doing wonderful, received the Aaronic priesthood and his whole family is now investigating. Even if I only live vicariously through these missionaries, I still feel the joy and excitement. 
PPS - To have a less active returning is very rewarding isn't it? Thank you for loving Heavenly Father enough to give that little bit more for his child. 

"I am more blessed that I would deem myself worthy to be..." ElderClaypool's new assignment - June 2, 2013

Hey Mom!
You know, I was a little worried when for the first time in my whole mission I didnt have a letter from my favorite mom in the whole wide world...but in reading your reason behind it all, I am so proud of you and would hope that you would choose the Lord over writing me any day! Its wonderful to hear from you nonetheless ;) How was your trip!? Was it just amazing to relax and enjoy yourself? My last p-day in my area we were able to really just walk around Donetsk, had a nice sushi lunch (super good!) and just relaxed. That was good to have since the next few days were really super hectic. We had transfer meetings like you had predicted and I received my new assignment and area. When we arrived at transfer meeting, we were greeted by 10 new beaming sisters ready to serve and all so young. How amazing is it that all but 1 decided to serve a mission after President Monson made the age change. What an incredible testimony it is to see the youth of the church stalwart in following the promptings of the Spirit and following the modern-day prophet. Amazing! They began the transfer meeting with all of us standing in a circle as usual, ready to announce all the missionaries, their companions, and areas, thus inviting them to be seated. President got up and announced the first transfer that with Elder Butterworth I would be serving as his assistant. I cant even describe the wall of shock that hit me. I was not expecting that in the least and am still pretty shocked that I am where I am. I feel super humbled to be able to serve with President Campero in his last month, be here when Elder Soares of the Seventy comes, and really with my companion introduce the new mission president, President Lockhead, to the entire mission. In short....I am more blessed that I would deem myself worthy to be. We had a few meetings with all the trainers and sisters. There are so many sisters in the mission right now that almost all of the sisters are training (all except for the two who are still being trained) including a few 3-somes of sisters. It was pretty funny actually that when we were praying and said "amen," the unexpected feminine voice tones was really all that we heard at that training meeting :) It was a pretty stressful first few nights here too with a new sister going to the hospital and another having an allergic reaction to peanuts in a candy bar...the poor sisters on top of it all were trying to have our first ever sister's seminar and really have a good time...but now they're even stronger I guess. The really funny thing is that on Thursday we didn't have a place to sleep with sisters sleeping in our apartment and the medical-attention-needing sisters taking our vacancy spot at President's home. So we went and stayed in my old apartment. I would have never guessed that the night after transfers I would be in my same old apartment ;)
Regarding me being called as AP (assistant to the president)  probably the one that is the most surprised is me, but I'm starting to fill in the shoes a little bit. It's a lot, but I can appreciate just a little bit more what you and other church leaders have in their callings. I'm grateful that the Lord is letting me learn, make mistakes, and grow.

Missionary Leadership Council was wonderful! It was the first time in mission history and it was wonderful to have the Sisters on the council. It brings a new dynamic that just lifts the whole mission. We are really focusing on working with the members since the focus of our mission for about a long time has been personal finding. Finding on our own efforts is something that we can do. We've proved it to the Lord, but now we are going to the higher law. It's a much more fulfilling law too. For one of our practices we were able to watch the video from the Worldwide Leadership Training when Elders Clayton and Christiansen visited less-actives. Truly to come into a house, full of love, with the goal to restore them to their past testimonies, knowledge's, and blessings is the one of the greatest experiences we can have in this life. Often times our less actives are not prodigal sons and daughters, but simply lost coins that we have forgotten, misplaced, or turned away from. I find so much joy in finding those people that have left or have been lost.

We are able to see president more often.  There is a lot to think about and a lot that I don't really know how to do yet...but I really want to do my best. Be the best example, and help these missionaries and all the people come closer to Christ because of it. Pray for our mission and these missionaries...they are absolutely incredible, but we can do much, much better. I can too. Luckily, my Australian companion (from Brisbane) is an incredibly wise missionary that I will and can learn so much from. I feel so incredibly honored to take part in this historic time of the mission...We will see just what the Lord has in store for the mission and just what He can do with me.

I often pray for my future family and kids...and I have no doubt they pray for me, just like I do not doubt that I prayed for you. Thank you for all that you are. You have the perfect perfections and perfect imperfections that I need, needed, and will still need from my earthly parents. I pray for you every day.

So the last few days have really been a blur with Elder Butterworth being super patient with my lack of knowledge. But I was incredibly blessed with the opportunity to go to my old branch and see Kolya's baptism. It was really the first one that I was able to see almost all the way from start to finish...when he was baptized he was just glowing. Because of his work schedule he was baptized Sunday morning at 8 am. (Elder Carley and his companion had to sleep at the church and wake up at 2am to start filling the font since our fonts take so long to fill) There was a good number of people there, the service was wonderful, and immediately after that he was confirmed at sacrament meeting. Wow. That's really all that I can say. The Lord took a man that was a normal Ukrainian man and turned him into an incredible being of joy. It's amazing what the Restored Gospel can do to any person willing to apply it. So here I am in Donetsk...but we have a bit more to do now. We don't have an area or investigators...but these wonderful missionaries and all the people in the mission boundaries, member and not, are under our jurisdiction. Prayers and as much inspired advice and you could give me to help me be the best I can for this mission would be wonderful! I love you all so much and really do know that the Lord has called us to the work in our various callings and that really each of them are so important. What matters is not what our calling is, but what we do with what we are given. Here we go!

Elder Claypool
Beautiful sunset

Sister Missionary Training conference

Kolya baptism

Beautiful Donetsk

The Donetsk Chapter conclusion "Today is the first day of our future" - May 29, 2013

Well, my family, I hope that you are all absolutely amazing! These last 16 weeks in Donetsk have been days incomparable with anything I have ever experienced in my life. I feel real growth, I see growth in the Lord's investigators, and I see growth in our members (both less- and active). We have seen so many miracles these weeks having lesson after lesson, miracle after miracle, and really...its not because we did something all that special, its because we were obedient and faithful to the Lord. He said, and we tried to do. There really isn't a greater feeling than simply doing a good work, and doing that work well. I was a completely different person when I came here to Donetsk and now, though the changes are minor, they're there.

We've seen less-active families renew baptismal covenants through the sacrament, investigators progress towards baptism, a less-active find joy in the doctrines of Christ, another less-active help his investigating girlfriend come to know Christ and be strengthened himself, and even unfortunately we've seen people turn from blatant testimonies which they have received deciding to remain in their own ways. I have a testimony more than anything else this transfer that the eternal principle of receiving blessings is preceded and founded upon the principle of taking care of, using, and magnifying what we have:

Kolya, one of the Lord's investigators, was to be baptized on the 15 of June. We were meeting with him last night after work talking about the Word of Wisdom, seeking to prepare him for his covenant with our Heavenly Father. To show you the humility of this man he, when learning that coffee and tea (2 very popular things here) were contrary to God's laws, said:"Well, you know, I admit that I drink coffee and that it is something that I rely on. I've read in places that it is healthy for you in some senses and that even green tea is super good for you...but I am so grateful that I have the Word of God to teach me what is true." In discussing his baptism he decided also that there was no purpose in waiting a few weeks when he could just meet with us every night, and be baptized this Sunday. And so he will be. He shared an experience with us - this man who really didn't have a relationship with God before, who has knelt with us in tears thanking God and promising to be faithful - about when he was at work earlier that day he was on a ladder and afraid he would fall. "I prayed to the Father," he said "and all of the sudden I was filled with this strength and peace and finished my work without fear. That is why I thanked my Father for helping me today." 

The most amazing thing about this whole situation is not that Kolya started meeting with us a little over 2 weeks ago, it is not that he accepts everything with faith, it is not that he can feel and recognize the Spirit, and it is not even that he is reading the Book of Mormon every day according to a 5 month reading chart given to the members. What is amazing is that Elder Carley and I really didn't do anything to find him. We did as the Lord through his authorized servants and Spirit directed to work with less-actives. We really didn't have too many investigators that were progressing. One Sunday sitting there in class he came and knocked on the door wanting to learn more and change his life around. "And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a...commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you; Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation. I, the Lord, am abound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (D&C 82:8-10). I know that when we just simply do as we are supposed to, the Lord will always bless us more than we can even imagine. 

I read a wonderful quote the other day that I pondered on and rephrased a little: "A sunrise marks the beginning of a opportunity to make better the following sunset." In the sunset of this chapter of my mission, I look back and realized that in the heat of the day I wasn't always doing all that I could. But with the mercy of God and some effort on my part, my sunset is incredibly peaceful because I know my work in this area is finished. May we ever remember the sweet blessings that await us at the sunset during the scorching heat of the day. Don't wait till tomorrow, for today is the first day of our future. 

I love you family! You are my example and one of my causes that keep me going when times are tough. Thank you! 

"The Lord makes me sufficient" - May 20,2013

Thank you so much for your letter and for the input on the twins, I just sent them a letter and hope it will help. They are incredible!

I wanted to share with you miracles that are being given to me regardless of how unworthy I feel I am for them:

On Wednesday of last week we had a full day planned ahead of us with many lessons that were proving to be absolutely incredible. We started off meeting with a man named Valerie Lauren who has been paralyzed for a long long time. The doctors had told him that he would never move again...and he laughing told them that he had enough faith and sure would walk. Over the months and years he exercises every single day for 7 hours a day moving his arms, legs, and torso. It is incredibly painful for him, but he just says that he begins every workout with a prayer to pray for the strength to work through pain. He taught us more that day than we taught him. He really showed us that we have no reason to complain, but every reason to thank our Heavenly Father for all that he does. We get so caught up in what doesn't matter that we forget the miracles all around us especially with our health. He in exclamation pointed to the sky and said: "A man can know all about the cosmos," and pointing to his legs, "and nothing about the elementary." What miracles we are in merely existing. And with our faith strengthened from this man of incredible faith who's life goal is to ride triumphantly to church in his wheel chair wheeling himself 3km there and 3km back, we left with full hearts. He will soon receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in June. 

We continued on the path with our member, after another less-active lesson following Brother Lauren, to our referral from For all those of you who don't know, this hardly doesn't ever happen. Its a miracle when we receive anything from a media referral...and a miracle it ended up being. We took the trek to this man who lived a good hour walk from our house on foot in the sunny day with cotton blowing everywhere littering the ground as snow. We reached our destination and asked nearby neighbors where this man lived and if they knew him...the address did not exist. We had already tried to call this person...and the number didn't exist. When asking the neighbors if maybe they knew this man, they had no clue who he was nor had ever heard the name. So that was pretty lame....but as missionaries we always have a, drum roll please...backup plan! There was a less-active who lived nearby...actually, those neighbors who we had asked all the information too, they lived at the address we had...but they weren't the less actives. Fortunately they did know our less-active and pointed us in the right direction. We rang the door bell on the front gate...didn't work. We called...the number didn't exist...we were beginning to think that we were in repeat-failure mode. Randomly the neighbors drove up instructing us to just open the door, and yell his name; the gate was unlocked. So we entered hesitantly afraid of getting in trouble for trespassing and yelled "Victor Ivanovich!" No answer. The dog, a German Shepherd of sorts was completely quiet although almost all dogs in private homes bark. So with no answer we went farther into his property, and just felt that we needed to go all the way to the front door and knock...there was an answer as a man came out in his late 50's/60's and was our Victor. He was super nice, had been a member over 15 years ago, had an accident at work, lost his car, couldn't come to church, and the members kind of just forgot about confusion he asked how in the world we found him when he used to live about 30 minutes away...we looked him straight in the eye and told him the truth: Heavenly Father sent us here. He's a wonderful man that loves the church and that we are working with to help get back to activity. 

The final miracle was our lesson with a young man who had literally come to church himself and knocked on the door of the Gospel Doctrines class wanting to know more. We have been teaching him often this week and he is moving closer and closer to his baptismal date of the 15 of June. He feels the Spirit, recognizes it too, and has a sincere desire to know and do the will of God. When asking him if he had wanted to be clean and better, he said, "Well, its not that I want it, its that the Lord needs it. And if the Lord needs it, I'll listen." One of the most sacred moments of my mission happened with him as we knelt on the floor after teaching about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and listening to him plead with the Lord for forgiveness. It was the most powerful and personal prayer I have ever heard in my life. With a hug after the lesson and expressions of our gratitude one to another, he left that room with an unprecedented light in his eyes. 

These are miracles that we can work with only with a small grain of faith. I know that the Lord will take all that we are, no matter how much we aren't, and make it enough to work mighty miracles. It is truly amazing what a little faith, hope, and charity will do. Believe me that you can have these miracles happen too...because there's nothing incredibly special about my faith or hope or charity. The Lord just makes me sufficient...and on days like this, more than sufficient. I believe in miracles of faith. 

I love you all so much! Have fun on your trip!

Elder Claypool

Happy Mother's Day - May 13, 2013

Hello Mom!
I am so grateful for the opportunity to start off my Sunday on such a high note in talking to the best family in the world. I'm grateful for your support and for the love that you emanate in all that you do. The greatest thing that I think I could ever say is that the Lord is blessing our family with deeper testimonies of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ leading to becoming what we were created to become. This is the greatest of all blessings really...or at least this blessing of deepening our understanding and increasing our ability to do and become, really is eternal life. "And this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent" (John 17:3). This is what were all here for. And our Heavenly Father is blessing us with this gift "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (2 Ne 28:30). Speaking of gifts given to us, I had an interesting thought in my first area that I would like to share with you.
In all honesty there are 3 great gifts in life that we can receive from God our Father...and they are the best gifts that we could ever receive. The First Gift: the gift free agency - the greatest gift we received in the Pre-Earth Life. Our loving Father in Heaven gave this gift to us freely from the beginning of our spiritual birth in order to one day be like him. With this gift we could become ourselves, choose for ourselves, and prove ourselves worthy of His higher gifts. This is the foundation of receiving all gifts, or one could say, the First Gift is the ability to seek and receive all other gifts. The Second Gift: the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Once baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by those who are authorized to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof (see AoF 1:5), a person may receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost - the greatest gift we can receive in this life. Through this Second Gift, we receive guidance, direction, and aid in using the First Gift. The Holy Ghost is also the messenger through which the blessings of the Atonement (both justification, or remission of sins, and sanctification, or perfection) are given to us. We can use the First Gift correctly as God had intended, receive forgiveness when we don't use the First Gift correctly, and we can walk the path more perfectly as we are sanctified. The Second Gift is the ability to use the First Gift correctly. The Third and Final Gift: Eternal Life. This is the gift given to all those who, having all they can, using the first and second gifts wisely, inherit all the Father has including eternal ties with our loved ones here on earth. The Third Gift is The Ultimate Gift.
So, that was just a thought that I had had for you this week, hope it helps with anything, but I also want to say that it really is the little steps that count. Our little goals step by step help us to step by step realize our potential and these gifts. I love you all so much and I want to testify that the gift of the Holy Ghost really does take that which may be complex and makes it as simple as a child's understanding. Like I said on skype, it really is all true. It was a miracle of a last week too. God is a God of miracles...especially in giving me a mother like you. Happy Mother's day mom, and never forget that my love for you is never-ending. I love you.
Elder Claypool
PS, is there anything that I can do to help our family, both immediate and not, to be eternal? (could you send me emails of Kyleigh, Aunt Amber, and Connor? Thanks ;)

"Work Hard and Let The Spirit Guide" May 6,2013

Happy...well there's always some kind of holiday here...I just dont know which one...oh yeah, MOTHER'S DAY!!!

It makes me so excited to hear just how much missionary work you are doing and how much it is blessing you. Seems like your going to pass me up in missionary success soon ;) It really is wonderful to catch the wave isnt it? In just thinking what it means to represent the Savior...I just am so grateful for such an opportunity. We've taken a lot of big steps this week for the future especially in the way that we do missionary work. Just so that all know, a missionary is not called to find or even baptize; they are called to teach and preach the Gospel with power and authority. The role of finding and even baptizing is actually the members' role. I wasn't a very good member before I guess ;) In our mission, the majority of our fruits are plucked by our own efforts in contacting, tracting, and our own programs like english. However, there is a better way, and that way is the way we are starting to walk. Its through the members! That's why in our mission we are taking a step forward, leaving our old missionary habits and becoming missionaries who work through the members. Its pretty rough for me actually because whenever we planned before, our back up plan was always contacting to find more I have to learn to do missionary work all over again. 

An Elder in our mission has always been a wonderful example of this, working with the members that is. He is a very successful missionary here too. However, when I came here to the mission, if a missionary spent a lot of time at a member's home it ment they were wasting time and really not a good missionary; or in other words, they just didnt want to work by getting out and hitting the streets. This became the focus of the mission: finding by our own efforts. There were weeks when between 8 missionaries we had received 200 contacts...but hardly any new investigators and maybe one baptism. But this was how we were trained. Now, under the revelation of our President, we are changing our focus and doing missionary work the way the Lord would have it done. We've proved to the Lord we can work we need to work smart and spiritual. It's not that we werent working smart or spiritual before, but now we are learning what the Lord wants of us. That Elder, whom I love dearly, was the pioneer for us grateful I am for that. 

This new style of missionary work has its fruits for us: The less-active family that you were asking about actually did come to church after a miracle of an experience. 

We went to their home saturday, after calling them during the week a few times previous to share our excitement in coming over, and started our service. We were just moving bricks and dirt for a 2 hours along with Brother Andrei. We talked, laughed, and just got to know him better. However, that was not the part that made the highlights of the journal that night ;) We had a lesson with them shortly following our service about the sacrament. I don't remember all that was said, other than I have a very sacred feeling everytime I reflect on that lesson. We talked about the importance of the sacrament, the importance of the Holy Ghost, and just how much we need that weekly renewal. We took a pause asking the question, "What would a more abundant influence of the Holy Ghost do in your life?" They answered that question and then we said that the Holy Ghost was definitely present at this meeting and that we can all listen to what he will say, following which we took about two minutes of complete sacred silence to listen. I was praying pretty hard in all honesty that this would actually work. It was just a prompting and not a plan, but we put our trust in it. After a few minutes we said that of course the Spirit told us what to do and that even though we as missionaries didnt need to know, as representatives of Jesus Christ exhorted them to follow their promptings. Brother Andrei raised his hand and said, "I have a huge favor to ask of you: Could you call us at 8am tomorrow morning to make we sure we dont sleep in? We're coming to church." And you know, we aren't perfect as missionaries and dont do all that we could always, but I felt a deep gratitude and felt like a real servant of Christ when we said "We'll not only call you Brother Andrei, but we had already planned on being here at 8am to come to church with you." There was a happiness unexplainable after that lesson. The Spirit was there on the lesson. They came to church, were greeted by all the members who had so long missed them, it was an incredible easter service (easter is the 5th of may here), and they partook of the sacrament. Even though they only stayed one hour, its the first step. Truly no effort is wasted in the work of the harvest. 

I'll see you on Saturday at 8:30a your time and 6:30p my time. Happy Mother's day! I love you so much!

Your Son, Elder Claypool

PS, Andrei Lukashuk, my Ukrainian brother, is getting married in a month and then in december when his year mark of membership is up they'll be sealed in the temple. Try to shoot him an email of congrats!