Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/13/2014 Wahoo! 45 at church!

I hope that you got my last email. It looks like it didn't get sent last week, but this week you'll just have two weeks worth ;) I love you so much and am so excited that I can see you soon! It's such a blessed balance to have that I feel I am getting cloer and closer to to miss you and to focus on my purpose. When the balance is right, I am able to use missing you to fuel my mission. It's not the easiest to be out here on my mission, and the longer I am here, the more I become a missionary naturally, but the more that I have the desire to see you all again, go to the Temple finally, and begin my own family. But, the wait is always worth it, especially when you are doing what the Lord would have you do. I live by my covenants and find great strength in such a life style. I've grown so much mom! And I have no one to thank other than you and dad, Korm, Kayla, Kenzie, and all who support me. Most of all, I have to thank my Heavenly Father that he is so merciful and full of grace towards me. My heart is just filled with gratitude.
This last week, we lost a few of our investigators just because they aren't ready and don't want to change...its always hard to see that. We continued to work though. Sunday was just the climax of it all. We were at church on Sunday and there were 45 people there! 6 months ago the average was about 25 and now we are pretty consistently getting over 35 and now two weeks in a row of 43 and 45. There are investigators there, less-actives returning, and our members are strengthening and almost being renewed into a new branch. The feel of Sumy is just...we are so blessed by Heavenly Father. Our investigator Nicholai bore his testimony today at Gospel Principles and pretty much bore testimony that he had received just that day: "While I was at sacrament meeting, I asked and pondered as I'd been counseled...and know I can say that I received my answer: I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that your church - well, our church - is the church of Jesus Christ." You have no idea what that did to my heart to hear those words. I was like a father that was just so proud of his kid...but in all reality, its the Spirit that takes the credit with Nicholai...we are just privelaged to participate. Then we were able to have a pretty rough evening...really rough. But my companion was a trooper and never once complained and keep going. We had some pretty rough rejections and it was dark, wet, and cold...but you know, we kept going because we promised God we'd serve with all our all...and in the end of the evening we were blessed (literally in the last few minutes of the day) with a new investigator that is very much so going to prove a strength to the church here in Ukraine. We felt that we needed to turn left and go a different way home than usual after missing our bus stop and needing to backtrack. So we did, and as we did, turning a corner was Dmitri who then engaged us and he practically took our number, set up the lesson, and did our job for us. We must endure to the end to receive the blessings that there await. And they are so worth it. At the beginning of my mission, I was under the impression that when I put in A effort then God would give me A1 (or the according blessing in return). In other words, I thought that if I put in 20, I would get 20 back. Then I would work and work, but seemingly get nothing in return. Why endure then if the blessings maybe come and maybe wont? That was my thinking...but then I realized that the formula was really quite true, but incredibly unbalance. When we keep a commandment, we really are immediatly blessed...but it is not always the blessing we expect. Sometimes the blessing is the absence of those blessings we are seeking after. This allows us to endure, be diligent, patient, and truly faithful. I am grateful for those blessings that seem to be painful or painstaking in the process, but work to our betterment in the end. God loves us. I testify of that. I also testify that we can fully and completely lay all our expectations on him and have full confidence in him: He is our Perfect, Loving, Heavenly Father that wants our very best. So our job is now to be submissive to his will, that so far exceeds our own in glory, wisdom, and perfection. As C.S. Lewis said: "There are really only two kinds of people: Those who say to God 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says "Have it your way." Let us take courage in our faith in Our God and truly give ourselves more and more to his will. 

Thank you mom for being a constant pool of wisdom and examplary valor that I can turn to and learn from. You are one of the greatest blessings of my existence. Thank you. 

I love you with all my heart and can't wait to give you a huge hug!
Elder Claypool 

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