Sunday, October 20, 2013

"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

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