Monday, September 30, 2013

"Understanding Eternally Enduring Truths" 9/30/13


It is great to see that the family is doing wonderful! Also, thank you so much for your pictures. They were incredible and great memories. We all need to take time to see just how much we've grown...and it has been a blast to show all the people in the mission office my pictures ;) 

Tell the twins that I played soccer for two straight hours on Monday after I wrote you last and was dead tired afterwards. I was playing with the Kharkov zone and really had a blast...who knows, maybe I'll be able to school the twins when I get back ;)

This last week was wonderful with being able to fight the tendencies to relax, move on, and not endure to the end. But I really like what I heard one missionary say while he was giving a blessing to another sick Elder: Enduring to the end is where all the real blessings are earned and merited. 

When I was with Elder Harrison, a dear friend of mine, he expounded Helaman 3:35 to me that talks about how the people waxed stronger and stronger in humility and firmer and firmer in their faith in Christ, which change came from yielding their hearts to God. How did they do it? Of course they prayed, fasted, and served, but it was interesting that the verse before describes that they were severely persecuted. Sometimes we let persecution or trials in general get us down and it has a negative effect on us; however, we should use it for our benefit. Like the people in the verse, we can use our trials and persecution as an opportunity to give our hearts more fully to God. 

I think that has been one of the most life-changing things of my mission: Being able to learn a truth that literally frees me. I'll show you what I mean: This week I was having a rough time opening my mouth, talking to people and inviting them to come into the waters of baptism and be baptized. In a very inspired district meeting, we talked about baptism and just what it means in the scheme of things and the question was posed: "What is keeping you from having faith to baptize and expecting to do so?" The Spirit whispered to me: understanding. I realized again as I already had before that what keeps me from performing was first and foremost rooted in my understanding. President Packer has taught: "The Study of true doctrine will improve behavior better than the study of behavior will study behavior". When we understand the key truths of the Gospel in our hearts (which understanding in our hearts can only happen when the Spirit takes what we know in our minds to our hearts), it just clicks and all of the sudden obedience to a law isn't so hard, choosing to serve the Lord isn't so much of a chore, and in the end of it all, we are more equipped to endure to the end when we are founded upon eternally enduring truths. After the conclusion of that meeting, all of the sudden talking to people on the street wasn't just a chore, but a privilege trying to allow all to partake of salvation. 

Whenever a person is not performing as the Lord would require, reproof is rarely the remedy. Teach when understanding lacks, reprove when repentance is needed.
One of the most amazing things that we were able to experience this week was just how much we need members to help us with our brothers and sisters. I've thought about it long and hard and realize that members doing missionary work (meaning the finding, baptizing, and fellow-shipping) is just so much more natural that a kid in a shirt and tie walking up to you on the streets and asking you what may seem like overly-personal questions. When the members invite their friends to just experience the love and joy that they feel, they are going to see much more success than a missionary will his whole mission walking the streets. The missionaries as divinely sanctioned teachers of the word will teach those friends the doctrines needed, call to repentance (or give commitments), and then with the members work the investigators closer and closer to their eternal destinies. We haven't got here yet, but we are well on our way. 

We have members on our lessons. its just a given for us because we see the blessings of it. We have an investigator, (took name out), who we met with a few weeks ago who had prayed to meet with the missionaries. We had an incredible lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith and she was more than captured by the ideal of our message's potentiality to be true. The member was able to bear testimonial about the Gospel. This is an incredibly powerful method to share the Gospel for members and missionaries alike: It's not necessarily an "I know that..." statement for that is a testimony. A testimonial is when the member relates a story that clearly displays the effect of applying the Gospel in their lives. Its like a testimonial of a great new car; "This is a great new car! I can't even express what life is like driving in the nice leather seats with the car windows down and my MoTab blasting! Not to mention it has a GPS navigation that leads me to the promised land...etc." Disregarding me be a little silly, every member can bear testimonial to their friends in a non-weird, abrasive way. Not only that, but she felt the Spirit greatly on the lesson, agreeing to be baptized. However, she expressed an incredibly  serious phobia of water. The member that was on the lesson assured her that if the Lord can do all the great miracles he has done, he can surely help with her phobia. The next lesson, another member was informed before hand of her phobia and when we showed her the font, the member was able to calm her fears and assure her that all would be wonderful! More than that, She received an answer to her prayer that it was true and that she should be baptized! What aided in this was the member on the first lesson explaining how she felt the Spirit in a practical way that She could also recognize the Spirit. As a member before my mission, I had no idea how much aid I could have been to the missionaries...but repentance is an eternal principle and I will be the best member-missionary I can in the future. 

Next week we'll be in our new area, apartment, companionship, and chapter! Here we go to baptize thousands of families. We will bring salvation to the people there. 

I love Ukraine. I love the people. I love Jesus Christ our Redeemer. 

I love you !
Elder Claypool

9/23/13 "Obedience really does ensure happiness..."

Good morning !

Your words are so absolutely amazing! Obedience really does insure happiness just as much as it ensures happiness. Congratulations to both of you on your new calling. Yes, mom is amazing.

You are blessed to lead temple work for the doctrine of Baptisms for those that couldn't have their ordinance work performed here. I agree it is a strong point that testifies of the Restoration of the Gospel. It is a doctrine and practice that was practiced during Jesus Christ's primitive church and is something that has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

This last week was quite wonderful with Mission Leadership Council and being able to be back in Kharkov helping missionaries. Elder Carley and I are doing just wonderful but super tired. It's good though. We are working as hard as we can...but we can continue to do better.

The mission is in the most amazing place that it has been in a long time and I'm able to be filling my time with the mission and its needs. We are doing such an important work and the leadership principles that I am learning as a missionary are priceless.  I have so many blessings. My leadership skills are improving, especially in being around President and Sister Lochhead as they teach by example and I am able to better understand what it means to live the Gospel and be consecrated to it. I'm so grateful to my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents to real-life Gospel living. Living the Gospel should not make us estranged from our friends and family, but more united. Up until this point in my life, I feel that I along with many members of the church mistakenly create a 'holier than thou' relationship with their peers and close ones seeking to deny all ungodliness, mistakenly denying also the sinner in the process. We are all sinners. We aren't better than others. But we have the truth of the gospel and need to share it so others can partake of blessings our Father in Heaven so very much wants to share. You are a wonderful example to me of how living the Gospel is fun, rewarding, and happiness. It's not some abstract idea that is drawn all over the chalk boards of our church buildings, but a real way of life that meets every need of every person. Thank you for that.

In about 2 weeks I will no longer be an assistant and will be heading to the smallest branch in the mission. It is an area that has really struggled.  There are a ton of offended less-active members and all the missionaries recognize it is a dying area.  Missionaries who had checked-out were sent there in the, as you can imagine we have a lot of work to do. A tremendous amount of work before all is lost. I have been asked to serve as the Elders quorum president there.  Any suggestions? Please pray for those members and me to help them catch the vision.  Our goal is to strengthen the branch, baptize hundreds, and get the branch back on its feet. It's a large task, but I feel that to this was I foreordained to be here.

Love you!

Elder Claypool
Ukraine will never be the same

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

9/16/13 "Be available to the Lord's time"

Hello everyone,

I really appreciate all that you do in sending me pictures so I can see how my amazing siblings are growing, and you are right that mom is the best looking. The photos are always the best part of the email...well besides dad’s jokes of course. Is everything all clear about our new media rules and blog, etc?

The weekly lesson for us:  this week was a huge testimony of being where the Lord wants us to be at the right time...and also that plans are meant to be changed J…. As part of our responsibilities, we were able to be up in Kharkov this week, the other main city of our mission. It was wonderful traveling up there with a younger sister who we were taking to Kharkov to serve with a short-term missionary (a short-term missionary is a local person that serves as a temporary missionary for 2-4 weeks). Once we arrived we were able to be with the zone leaders for the night. I was able to be with Elder Stoker, a missionary who was in the MTC with me and is just a wonderful man that knows how to have fun, but keeps it spiritual at the same time. A few instances of being where the Lord wanted us to be:
It was a huge thing for me to see Elder Stoker’s Christ-like character in giving his food to a man on the streets with what we had just bought ourselves (reminds me of the Claypools back home). All of us should never forget that people around us are in need, spiritually, temporally and physically. 
We were able to be in the right place at the right time for some Elders that were struggling and help them out. This was pretty important only because President all week was gone in Moscow for a Mission President seminar. Time after time, Elder Carley and I were just amazed at the placement of the issues in our paths...or rather that the Lord placed us in exactly the right place.
The week continued with us trying to be on exchanges with other missionaries to train them, and we ended up having urgent calls that caused us to run up to Sumy, a city at the northern-most part of the mission, and we purchased an apartment there (by the way, if you were wondering why I pulled out a larger amount of money this week it was because we had to pay a down payment on that missionary apartment, and due to the last-minute trip we had to make overnight, lack of money because of train ticket purchases, and lack of ability to get money from the Mission Office fast enough, we had to take desperate measures.) It was pretty funny that Elder Carley and I with a bit less sleep than usual were at the train station one night literally having to walk around so as to not fall asleep standing J   we got caught up on our sleep eventually...but there were a few days that I was more tired than I have ever been in my life. With the apartments out of the way for the new missionaries, it was a huge relief. In the end, we were able to go on only 1.5 exchanges out of the whole 4 days we were up there. It was a huge privilege to be around Elder Zacherl again, my former German companion. He finished his mission this week and I was able to be with him his last few days before he goes home to Germany. What a blessing it was to be around the missionary that taught me how to be a missionary and also to see how much he was still going strong until the end of his two years. We had some incredible lessons together on the exchange that we did...and he is the missionary that I aspire to be like. We also had a bit of fun time on Friday going to one of the world's largest markets in Kharkov to buy...drum roll.. guess what………yes, ties! (so that would be a portion of the funds that I pulled out of my account as well).   I got a “few” ties to say the least.  Helped the economy there.  The ties are amazing and good prices.  And I have to wear a tie everyday anyway.   Our plans continued to fall through once we got back to Donetsk of being able to go on exchanges due to some things that we had to solve, but in the end of it all, we were able to be where we needed to be at the right time.

This week I gained a testimony as a result of my prayers of faith: We were working pretty hard with the little time that we had to proselyte this week, opening our mouths everywhere we went. One night about 20 minutes before the days end, there was that small prompting that is often over looked to talk with the person that was walking towards us in her bright colored clothes. We did, trying to prove our dependability to the Lord, and exchanged numbers, teaching a bit about the Book of Mormon. The next day, she called us asking when we would meet which was pretty good that she did since I had honestly forgotten about her. We got a wonderful member on the first lesson, sat down with this woman and realized just how incredibly prepared she was. After teaching the message of the Restoration and relating the First Vision, we paused and let the Spirit continue to testify. In the silence she said: I believe this is true. The member then bore powerful testimony about how she also felt it was true from the beginning, but still asked God if it was true, receiving her personal answer that no one could take from her. This woman is just absolutely ready for the Gospel and will be a powerful member. It was a powerful moment to ask: "Let's say that you come to know from God that Joseph Smith really is a prophet of the Restoration, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Christ's church is again on the earth, would you want to become a member of that church?" She said yes. And then the next question was "Will you then be baptized to become a member of that church?" Again her answer, Yes. 
This work is so rewarding and it really is real life. If we think about it, this is the life we are meant to live in our church callings and service on a mission...and in all reality, the "reality" that we live is just as real as the movies. There will come a day when the movie will end and we'll head out of the theatre of this life and into the next. I'm so grateful for the knowledge of God's plan for every one of us that allows us to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going; more importantly, this knowledge gives us motivation, direction, and actions to fulfill in this life to capitalize on the blessings that await us in the eternities. We are in the right place and this is our time to do the work of the Lord. The Savior said:
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)
Let us use the time we've been given to do what we came here to do. And if a person doesn't know what to do, that's what prayer and scriptures (and missionaries) are for. I know that He answers our prayers and gives us direction, or the "how" to fulfill His Holy Work. 
Love you lots!
Elder Claypool 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

“Learn to Love First, and the Work will Follow” -9/9/2013

Good Morning!
It’s quite ironic just how spot on your jokes are in regard to the culture here...but make no mistakes that I love this culture so very much!
By the way, thank you so much for your package.  Hopefully this story will make you laugh:  I received a random phone call from a random number and was told to meet a guy near our office. It was pretty funny because although I knew what it was for, the missionary I was with just observed me walking up to this stranger as he walked out around his big black van. He says "Is it you?",  me agreeing, and he handing me a bag and walking off.  It didn't help that I gave a little "priest quorum" rendition of your work and all your spy encounters. So, a few of the elders are about as convinced as Jarod Maynes is – ha ha. 
You're absolutely right that it is super easy to talk about religion but harder to get people truly interested. I think that that is the best part about the promise from Elder Holland in Preach My Gospel is that if we listen to what people around us have to say and really just befriend them first, we'll be given what to say. Elder Jeffrey R Holland said this: 

“More important than speaking is listening. These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you
can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more. . . . If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit and by our friends."

I have such a strong testimony of this on my mission. The people here do not respond well when someone stops them on the street, puts a Book of Mormon in their face and asks if they'd like to know about scriptures, angels, and a story about an amazing young man from the 1800's. I think that it would be a little awkward to have that conversation myself if something of the like happened to me. I've come to learn that all of us have questions, all of us have opinions about our Father in Heaven, but it can be locked way down in there. Like Elder Holland said, when we ask inspired questions, listen to them, and listen to the Spirit, we will notice a truth of the Restored Gospel that will highlight their interest. We all relate to the gospel differently and because of that, different things of the Gospel entice us. I'm learning this quite literally dealing with missionaries and having the responsibility to lift and inspire the mission: For me, the Gospel is most effective in the teaching of pure doctrine and letting the doctrine itself inspire me. For example, to know the purpose of the family helps me greatly to do missionary work. For others however, it is the coach-before-the-game talk that pumps them up. We address those needs in our teaching and exchanges. 
If there's one thing that I am learning now it is that love is the only way to open hearts and move the work forward. We were able to look at some new apartments this week for all the missionaries that are coming in and in the process, we were with a taxi driver from about 11am-4pm. He was clearly living a worldly life and loving it. Unfortunately, we treated the situation as an opportunity for reproof when what he really needed was us to love him and teach. After the day was over, we had learned a lot about him, and he opened up to us quite a bit, however, because we didn't show him love in not just telling him to repent, but helping him do so and showing him how to do so, he was not interested in further conversations.  We learned to love.
Yesterday there was an incredible lesson from the life of President Lorenzo Snow where he opened a new area on his mission in Italy. The people that he was to be teaching were a firm religious people who had segregated from the Catholic Church to live more fully by the Bible as they thought. Elder Snow knew that he would not be able to preach immediately, otherwise the people would close their hearts and the word would not get within them. What did he do? He started to study the Bible with them, lived among them, showed love to them, became their friends, and then after 11 years and after a huge miracle of healing someone, he was able to preach, baptize and help the new Italian saints come unto Christ. 
The Lord is hastening His work, but that doesn't mean that we should be too hasty in preaching the Gospel; we should always follow the promptings that are given us by the Spirit, but should always remember that the preaching of the gospel is the most natural thing that we can do as simply faithful disciples of Christ. We love, we serve, we live the Gospel, and then we take the time to help our friends and family see why that is. I wish before my mission I realized that for a regular member it is so much more natural to share the Gospel than for missionaries. We need the help of the members to do the finding and fellow shipping, we the teaching, and together the introduction to church life. This work is the most rewarding thing there is. Thanks for opening your mouth to give the opportunity to others to be blessed as we are blessed. You always were the best example of missionary work for me!
I love you! Sorry my email was really just thoughts all jumbled and on paper.
Elder Claypool
PS - I hope that you received the letter regarding new policies on media and sending it home. With all that is going on in the world, the Lord revealed that we need to be a little more careful with our pictures, words, etc. You need to remove the pictures off the blog if there are any. Have you had a chance to save all the pictures that were emailed home to all of you? I have not had the chance. At least we'll have those pictures!
Love ya!

"Be Faithful to not lose 40 years in the wilderness​" - 9/2/13

Dear family,

I hear dad chose the celestial time zone being in Europe this week, eh?  Too bad we don't get to see each other. I hope that work is going good and that all the people you meet are able to see you for who you really are.

This last week was pretty hectic and crazy mainly because Elder Butterworth received a transfer call and now is serving in Lugansk.  I wish him well and know he will finish strong.  I appreciate all I learned from him.

Guess who my new companion is? Elder Carley! We get to serve together some more which I'm very excited about.  The amazing thing is that Elder Carley and I already have such an incredible friendship that we naturally already have unity.  I have to really step up and do what is required of me...but Elder Carley is the perfect companion to magnify the assignment with me.

We are at a time right now in the mission where there are over 21 missionaries that are in their first 18 weeks of their missions and soon there will be an incoming group of 17 more new missionaries.  From these past few transfers and upcoming one, it will mean that 50% of our mission will be young (in their first 24 weeks after coming into Ukraine).  It is humbling to know that the Lord is giving us this opportunity to take advantage of the building of this mission.

This past week I've pondered a lot about the children of Israel and what was the cause for them to go into the promised land. After all, we are promised that temples will dot this entire land and that children of Israel will join the church by the is keeping us from that day, was my question I pondered.  I've read and studied, and realized that in the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and getting ready to enter the land of Canaan, we are no different.  Moses sent 12 spies to go and check on the land, see if it was worth it, if it was fruitful, and how the people were. The faithful (two spies) Joshua and Caleb came back seeing the fruitful fields and fortresses of the children of Anuk (or the giants as they called them). They were faithful in the Lord and gave what the Bible calls a "good report" of their findings. The other 10 spies unfortunately did not have the same faith. They considered themselves as grasshoppers and refused to believe that they could do what the Lord asked. What was the result? Because of 10 spies, an entire nation of hundreds of thousands, who were perfectly naive to the actuality of the land of Canaan, followed suit in the same faithless opinions and eventually wandered in the wilderness by commandment for 40 years. What would have happened if they had all united in their faith as Joshua and Caleb? The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness without direction and progression for 40 years receiving sermon after sermon on obedience, faith, and that as soon as the older generation died off, the young ones would enter the promised land. I see our mission in the same circumstance as the spies, or currently serving older missionaries, will have a time to give report to the naive children of Israel, or the new eager missionaries. The Lord has withheld missionaries from coming in last transfer and will send them in a powerful force this next transfer to continue what report we give. So in short, Elder Carley, myself, President Lochhead, and the mission are on a quest to prepare our minds and hearts to drop the ridiculously unfaithful mentality that we are in Ukraine and thus cannot expect the miracles of the gathering of Israel. We can and we will.  We will improve our faith.  So if you could pray for our mighty change of hearts and sufficient faith to bring about the long-foretold promises, we can use it!  Ask home wards to pray too.

Those are some of my thoughts  ;)

I love you and these principles apply everywhere and in every calling in the church: The Lord gives us the promises, the goal, the vision, the 'what'. We are the ones that must use the scriptures, personal experiences, and receive revelation for 'how' we'll go about doing all of it. We need Him. We testify of Him.

I love you,
Elder Claypool

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Recent photos of Elder Claypool

"...Show our dependability, the Lord will take care of our capability." - Aug. 26, 2013

Dear family,

It's great to hear that the ward back home is doing well and that all of our friends are returning home and doing well. It was pretty crazy to think that this last week was my year "in-country" mark. I remember thinking that would be so far away, but here it is. I can't believe how fast time is flying, but I really want to serve the Lord well. Some times I worry that my abilities aren't good enough and that I never really give enough, but I know that I am a more capable and committed missionary than the one that entered Ukraine a year ago. I really do just want to bring my brothers and sisters to the Lord and I know that it will bless them, however in the moment I sometimes have a hard time remembering such desires. I wish people would open their hearts and listen.

This week I was however really grateful to be able to sit in sacrament meeting this week with a sacrament hall full of my dearest friends and loved ones. I have served in this branch now since February and am somewhat able to tell something about each of the members. I have met with most of them, have had tender experiences with the majority, and found great pleasure in going around Sunday seeing all the smiling faces of those being blessed by the Gospel. The Sacrament is so much sweeter when you're not partaking of it alone but with those that you have had the opportunity to help.

There were recent-converts there, less-actives returning back into activity, dear active members, etc. One family that I had the opportunity to work with in my last area was there. One recent-convert we are now helping move forward in the Gospel blessed the Sacrament. Kolya that was baptized not long ago was there in his white shirt and tie just as another one of our Donetsk family. Even the less-actives that we have been personally working with this transfer were there and stayed for the second hour. This work is joy!  The best part is is that you don't have to be a full-time missionary to do it either.

The Gospel flows and is preached much more naturally from the stand point of a member of the church than a missionary actually. We have the friendships, have built the bond of trust, and truly love those around us when as members we share the Gospel with our family and friends. I have also prayed for our family to find people to bless with the Gospel. It could be less-actives and it could be investigators, but our family is a missionary family that performs the work of salvation.

I heard an interesting thing (of course mom has already perfected this issue) that one general authority counseled a group of stake presidents to do in order to more fully consecrate their work to the Lord: clean their homes, make any repairs needed, and then dedicate (or even re-dedicate if necessary) their homes to the preaching of the Gospel. It's something to think about to show the Lord: We are ready to work. I love the words of Elder Maxwell: "The Lord does not ask about our ability or inability, but our availability. And if we show our dependability, the Lord will take care of our capability." It's one way that we show the Lord our availability.

Pray for the work here that we may have enough faith to find those ready for baptism and that we may have enough faith to give as the Lord would have us give. Love you!

Elder Claypool

"Eternal Truths" - Aug. 19, 2013

Thanks for your wonderful email and for always keeping me light hearted. I appreciate it. I'm so grateful to hear that you are all praying for the opportunities to share the Gospel. I think that the more I come to understand the precious truths that we live by, the more I realize what life is like without the Gospel. Really...seeing others and their families without the Gospel is really a heartwrenching thing. Some times I get so caught up in not being perfect in this or knowing that, but when we really take the time to stop and be grateful for what we know, we will with out a doubt widen our gaze and start to see in the eternal prospective of our Father's eyes. A really wonderful activity that I have had the opportunity to do is to read the Book of Mormon, writing down all the all the plain and precious truths that we received because of the Book of Mormon. Even this morning, I was able to study the simple doctrine of "God our Loving Father in Heaven" and was left after studies really feeling like I didn't learn anything new...and then I took the time to ponder and realized just what I knew about God our Father in Heaven: 

He is our Literal Heavenly Father. Understanding this we build our relationship with him where we love him, trust him, and treat him as our father. This understanding eliminates all notions that He is some not-understandable higher power or idea, but an actual being that we come from and can return to. I know that He is my Father. He's all of our Father, and we can know this truth for ourselves.
He created us in His image. This relates to the first in that our potential to be like our Heavenly Father is so much greater than we often give ourselves credit for. Our father is the greatest being of all beings, and our potential is so immensely great. 

He has a Plan. We should take comfort in that and in the thought that all that is around us - including our experiences and trials - are for our benefit from our wise creator. I know He created all things and is in the woodworks of our lives. We can all come to know this to be true. 

He speaks with us and we can speak with Him. Can you imagine the magnitude of this blessing? The All-Powerful, Wise, Creator of Heaven and Earth allows us, His imperfect children, to speak with Him through prayer. He's given His word in times of old and still gives His word to us today through modern-day prophets and apostles. I absolutely know that He hears our prayers and that He always answers - always. We can all come to know this is true through trying it out. So ask Him if He's there and answer. 

He loves us. We pray, we rely on his council, we remember his teachings, we keep his commandments, - All these actions operate on the fundamental doctrine that God loves us. If we understand this, keeping the commandments becomes not a chore, but a way to seek blessings. We don't pray just because, but to really talk with him and receive counsel. We don't go through this life without purpose or worth, but live every day worth-while and purposefully. I know He loves each of us. I know that.  

These doctrines are probably the most incredible foundations of our belief that we rarely take time to think about, but they are the doctrines that we more than any other use on a day to day basis. I am so grateful that the plain and precious truths of our Father in Heaven were restored through the prophets of His Son, Jesus Christ. And we have the privilege of  being his Children and living up to the fullness of the measure of our creation. 

I love you dad and mom because you're my mortal parents and examples to me of how I can be more like my Heavenly Father. Help the members not take for granted the precious truths that they bask in from day to day. 

The work continues and the miracles are great. I love the Lord and love His work!

Elder Claypool

"This life is really just one large learning process"- Aug. 12, 2013

I do have to say that dad’s jokes are always a pure uplift to my weeks. My companions are brought to say now after I've laughed my head off, "Yep, that's your dad." I've tried convincing all my companions that I'm funny also, but they don't quite get my humor...and judging by our emails, it seems that we have similar humor.
Please tell grandpa Claypool happy birthday from me, and thank him and grandma for serving a mission. I just received their letter in the mail dates July 9 in which they spoke of their soon-to-be-ending mission. Tell then that I am so grateful that they chose to serve the Lord and really are starting a family tradition. I can't wait to go on a senior couple mission with my wife (many years from now). It will be just amazing! Have you and mom ever thought about going out to serve a mission? I guess you still have quite a few years too, but it's definitely something that all missionaries here are grateful for: senior couples.   Our senior couples are the best!  The Lord really needs the expertise of the senior couples too. The Church is quite young here and for a talented duo like you and mom, it would be just thrilling for any missionaries to experience your love and support as those that come over to our home already do. 
You asked about what challenges I have as an Assistant to the President?’s crazy, fun, and pretty stressful. There are so many things that go on in the mission that I am now aware of, and the special considerations to handle new missionaries correctly, registration/travel things, and just the normal needs of our missionaries, etc. One of the most amazing things that does happen as a mission leader is that the Lord puts a lot into you and the miracles you experience. As mission leaders can attest, our areas are supposed to be exemplary and allow other missionaries to model their area in according manner.  Months ago when I was privileged to serve as a zone leader, we were able to see many miracles that allowed us to teach with greater power. Often you have to ask yourself  "What does the zone need?" or "What does the mission need to learn?" From this you are able to plan the activities and act out the necessary events that need to occur in order for you as the assigned leader to teach what they need by your actions. It’s really a seemingly unfair way to expect miracles from the Lord (smile)  but we are so grateful for it ! We have a whole group of missionaries that didn't yet receive their visas and so the transfer is being delayed a few weeks...but it gives me more time to learn from my companion before the duty of lead assistant falls upon me as he gets reassigned soon. It’s pretty stressful only because my companion knows so much, and he is amazing, but I've realized that with The Lord I can really do all that He asks and nothing more. I've really come to learn how dependent I am upon Christ. 
This life is really just one large learning process. I guess to believe in the notion that every interaction, conversation, person, and situation are just things to pass-by, fill our time here in mortality, is to believe in the notion that our Loving Father in Heaven, in all the wisdom of His perfect plan, would not use every minuscule moment of our short time here on earth to learn and grow. If we look for opportunities to learn and grow, we see them. That's one of the greatest blessings of being here on a mission: Learning, Acting, Sharing.   I love to learn...not always in the ways that the Lord asks me to do so, but nonetheless, learning and progressing gives me a feeling of freedom; on the other hand, digressing and feeling stuck in a rut just makes me feel awful. The trick is to really follow the Spirit, even if in your efforts it seems like the Lord leads you into a valley when you wanted to be on a mountain.  The beauty can be found in both to learn.  By faith we know He'll lead us out. Then with all that learning that we do, we apply, make mistakes, learn some more, and apply again. It’s a beautiful progressive-process that defines us as perfecting sons and daughters of God. It’s the essence of our existence. 
I pray to learn and always have not the desired outcome itself given to me, but the opportunities to use my agency, follow the Spirit, and apply what I learn. 
I love you. Please never doubt that or that I pray for you every day. Mom and dad, you are so amazing good in your callings!
Elder Claypool