Sunday, October 20, 2013

"We have the choice to either fulfill the Lord's time, or just fill it and get through the day" 10/14/13

Dear all,

Even though Heavenly Father might get weary of you praying for me (ha ha), I need them everyday.

We saw some absolutely incredible blessings this week of finding people to teach, working with members and even finding a man that is going to be baptized.

I really do believe that when it all comes down to it, our personal choice coupled with the choice-enabling mercy of opposition helps us to become what we need to be.

Everyday there is the choice to either fulfill the Lord's time, or just fill it and get through the day. If we set Goals, plan, and follow the Spirit it really does bring about miracles.

General Conference was one of the most incredible things this week as well (we watch it later than you guys). We watched all 10 hours of conference and I enjoyed every minute of it! I came with specific questions and received very specific answers! More than anything else, I came to a better realization of why we need a prophet in our day. I feel that in my daily conversations with people here in Ukraine and the experiences that we experience, all is divinely orchestrated. In fact, we met a lot of people today that said something similar to the same thing: "There are many paths that lead to God." My response was always "No, there is only one. Period." I think that both my thinking as well as the common thought of the people are equally true in part and flawed in part. Too often in the Church we note other churches don't have all the truth; we look at our church as the One True Church of Jesus Christ...kind of a heaven and hell, you're-in or you're-out kind of a view...however, we should not forget the merciful plan of our Creator. He created a perfect plan that would allow all of us to receive a fullness of His blessings; He gave His perfect Son, who showed the perfect and only way to receiving those blessings. We often call that perfect path that Jesus Christ walked and taught His Gospel. To help us walk that path, the Savior Jesus Christ organized His church, calling apostles that were authorized by Christ Himself to teach the path and help all walk it. Even when Jesus Christ was not on the earth, Heavenly Father's plan had not changed, and He wanted all to know how to follow the Savior, His Son, and receive all the Blessings. Thus divinely called messengers of God, or Prophets, come into play. A prophet is called of God, given a correct knowledge of the perfect path and the power to walk it. The Prophet, according to the command of that same God that created the Plan, teaches the people the path and helps them to walk it.

Without living prophets as our mouthpiece of God, we are left to interpret the path according to our own wisdom...not to mention that the power to walk the path is inexistent without prophets. The prophets in our day, as we were able to see from General Conference, are given to us to teach us the path and help us walk it. We can choose our path, we can choose our doctrine, we can even choose our commandments, but in the end, only the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to lead us fully to our Father in Heaven and His blessings. Partial truth gets us part of the way. There are many paths in life. Each of us have our own. But our Father in Heaven, His Son Jesus Christ, their prophets of old, and their divinely called and ordained Apostles of today solemnly declare that there is only one path that leads to Eternal Life: Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

We simply invite all to see if this life is for them...our Father in Heaven invites all to find out if His life is for them.

We were able to meet with a wonderful woman this week and her 3 month old baby girl. Imagine it if you will: the fall leaves gorgeously changing colors, the air crisp, and the Gospel to bless families restored on the earth. We were able to sit there with this mother and just talk about church, prophets, Jesus Christ, revelation, the Gospel, etc. all focusing on the Family. The Gospel is not some abstract collection of saving doctrines; the Gospel is the perfect pathway of life that leads to peace, happiness, and joy. It is far from abstract; it is the most real thing of this life. When we teach as members or missionaries, we shouldn't repeat the same mistake that I have so many times in the past: giving information. In sharing the Gospel, the end goal isn't to talk about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, living prophets, or even the remission of sins. The end goal is to take these wonderful topics that grace our Sunday school classes, sacrament pulpits, and conversations with friends and relate them to the why of it all. Understanding the why of the Gospel takes it from abstract to relatable reality. Think about this. In your conversation with your friend you can talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how through Him we can be cleansed of sin. That's true, but unless they are exceptionally spiritual-based, the likelihood of that enticing them to act is pretty small. Let's try adding the why to it: Jesus Christ suffered for us so that when we make those mistakes and feel that overwhelming guilt, we can be free. We can all relate to feeling more free from burden can't we? But even that is not real end of the story. Christ suffered for us so that not only could our guilt be removed, but so could our sins, leaving us clean to where it would be as if we had never made those mistakes and on top of cleansing, he gives us the strength to do better next time. Okay as your average-joe being able to continue my life with the things I learned but with a clean streak sounds pretty good and on top of that that the Atonement helps me be a better person - that's pretty appealing...but that's not the end of it all either. Jesus Christ, in suffering for our sins, allows us to be relieved of guilt, become clean, do better next time, but for what? So that we can in the end of it all live with our families and with our Loving Father in Heaven for all time and all eternity with out end. That is what will get you. The doctrines of the Gospel are only precious to us not because they exist in it of themselves, but because of what they bring to us as a result of living by them. This kind of missionary work we can all do: "I love to go to Church every Sunday because my family is strengthened in this life and I have complete confidence that I'll be with them forever. Would you like to come and experience it for yourself?" The words of a dear new friend echo through my ears that she said after our meeting with her: "I'm really just a simple person. The doctrine just isn't that interesting to me." To my friend and to everyone that reads this, and to you too mom, I just want to say that yes, the doctrine is not the essence of life, but the results of living the doctrine is why I find joy in what I believe. It makes my life the best it can be, and I can't deny that. 

I love you mom and want to thank you for all your support! Share your testimonial that is personable, relatable, and has the "why" attached, and then in love invite someone to come and see for themselves. This is how missionary work is meant to be done. 

Give the twins a hug for me, tell Kayla great job on her talk, and tell Kenzie good luck on hers!

Elder Claypool

"My new city is Sumy (not sunny)" 10/7/13

Hi Everyone,

Hey Mom!
I'm glad you enjoyed the  pictures! I can send them from time to time, but not too often. As long as they don't include specific things or people then it is okay to do so. So I should be able to send at least photos with nature and me; they don't get much better than that right?! ;)
Alrighty, so to answer your questions (sorry that I didn't really answer them before): I am currently in my new area and it is just amazing! A huge change, but really amazing! My new companion is Elder Ellsworth who just came from the MTC and is on fire! We get along just great and he is a great friend already...I think in seeking to make friends and being open/relying on one another, we are able to continue to push forward the work. Elder Carley is most definitely ready to train the new assistant...Elder Carley trained me both times we served together :) We are in the gorgeous northern city of Sumy at the northern most part of the mission. We are just about an hour from Kiev...and an 11 hour train from Donetsk. It was pretty crazy to experience the last week too:
Besides being able to spend time with Elder Carley the last few days of the transfer together (which was absolutley amazing. he's one of my dearest friends), we were also able to be some of the 16 new missionaries' first faces they came in contact with on the mission. I was super nervous, but soon my nervousness melted away when we met them. Some of them had already served in another mission in the USA for a transfer, but as a whole, they were ready to be here and lift the mission. All of them are just amazing! It was way fun as well being able to have 11 of the 13 elders in our apartment for the biggest companionship planning session ever! We were able to talk about the mission and to let them see just what they had gotten themselves into. They were so tired, but still ready to go out and work. The next day we woke up and were ready for transfer meeting. With all the new missionaries, we practically had a mission conference ;) There were some great workshops and Elder Ellsworth and I were able to get together and start our service together. The time that I had to serve around President and Sister Lochhead will never be forgotten either; it was a blessing that will change my eternities.

We headed out on the bus up to Kharkov with the rest of the missionaries traveling up there and got in late thursday night. That wasn't the end of our trip though. We got on another bus the next morning and head to good old Sumy. The city is pretty small but has plenty of people in it ready to be blessed by the Gospel. It was good for my companion to catch up on his sleep and for me to get ready for my time here in Sumy.
Arriving here, our apartment was pretty much empty seeing as we are starting a new area, with a new apartment and everything...I will admit, this is were life got to be a little stressful. We were wanting to do the work, but couldn't until we had sufficient living conditions. Thankfully, we are all set to go and getting into the groove of things. For as long as I new about this assignment, I was super excited and ready to do all that I could...but once I got here, I felt like I was getting beat pretty well. I had a new area, an apartment to take care of, a calling to fulfill that I had no idea what to do, people all around me to take care of, a dipping in desire to do the work and take on this difficult assignment, and on top of it all, a new missionary that I would take a huge roll in molding and shapping into the missionary the Lord short, I was pretty stressed out.
Thankfully, prayer and scripture study came through again, along with partaking of the sacrament. All of the sudden I felt back to myself, ready to do the work, and having the faith, hope, and love to do so. I felt like the Lord in a very real sense is testing just how much I will talk with my actions and not just my words. I've said that we would baptize thousands here, but the Lord I feel is testing to see how much I am really willing to so do. A liberating thought was the thought that this time in Sumy some time or another will come to an end...what will I do with it? I also am coming to a humbling realization again that I can't do it on my own. But we together will do it.

The thing that was our shinning ray of hope was our elder's quorum made of up three active men and four missionaries. I was reminded of the Prophet  Joseph sitting on the Issac Moorley farm talking to a small collection of priesthood holders saying:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540)

Look where we are now.
This is a work that we are working hand in hand with our Mighty Father and Jesus Christ themselves. We will penetrate the hearts of the Sumy people with the truth that is breaking the clouds of darkness. It;s already been a little rough and I hope it will continue to be so, but with the Lord's help, my companion, the branch, other missionaries, me, and the Lord will do His work.
I love you mom!
PS - to answer your other questions: Lena is doing well, is going to Russia for a while and so she wont be able to be baptized any time soon, but she knows the Book of Mormon is true. That's a plus :) In regards to winter things, I should be okay, but it should be a colder winter than the last. I'll need to buy a shapka and a sweater or two, but our apartment is great and warm! Tell the twins good luck for me! We havent watched conference, but will this weeked. I'm excited! Thanks for the pictures! Tell korm he is a good looking prospective elder :)
 There's so much to say and so little time when it comes to my new was quite exciting leading up to the new missionaries coming in and going to my new area with my new companion. I'll explain in a little more detail about the activities and thrills, but know that I am happy, growing, and being tested. It's a whole new world being a trainer, coming to a brand new area with nothing, and getting back into the swing of doing missionary work every day without the traveling, planning, and administrative things of an assistant.  I'm ready!

In regard to your topic....I'll have to think about it some more. The branch here consists of a small band of priesthood holders that are solid. Our quorum is currently comprised of 3 active great men, not including us four missionaries that we placed here. I am eager to serve them.

I'm super blessed with my companion as well...I think he came pre-trained. He is an incredibly spiritual Elder that is super easy to get along with and one that will cause many many mighty miracles to occur. We are looking forward to some incredible times here...and even though I had my rough patches already in the area, I am choosing and receiving a lot of help here in Sumy as I learn to again love the work at the level that I once did. I was very excited to come to Sumy, but I realized I was relying on my own experience and wisdom...but now am clearly starting to see that there is no way I can do it here on my own with my companion. We need The Lord. The Lord is testing my faith to see if I can do as I say. And I will choose to do so.

I love you! Pray for the people here in Sumy, the branch, and for our goal to baptize five people before Christmas.

Elder Claypool