Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/27/2014 -"God speaks to our Hearts. Our hearts are the final word"

 Hi everyone,

Thank you for your encouraging words this week! They are always very needed!

I'm doing just fine with my clothes and really have only been super cold once. Elder Evalde (from Uganda) and I went to the market the other day to get some warmer stuff for him (and I grabbed some things for myself too ;)) He's the one that is really the trooper. He's never really experienced winter before in his life besides in Crimea, Ukraine (which has pretty mild winters in comparison to Sumy) and at that, his winters were spent indoors. So he is doing just great! And we're trying to keep him warm!

Our investigators are doing well, one of which is Dmitri. He is just a wonderful young man that is probably the most energetic person I have ever met. He is studying to become an Orthodox priest but is more than willing to meet with us and talk about our message to know if it is true.

It has been a pretty mentally intense last few weeks coming to learn more about his religion and being able to help him see the need for a Restoration. I have pounded my head against the topic of the Great Apostasy and read everything that I could get my hands on. But you know, just using the Bible, it's hard to 'prove' that there was a complete and universal apostasy resulting in all that we claim... and you know, in thinking about it, I think that Heavenly Father did that for a reason. In our churches we don't really look at all the details of everything that there is to look at.

Meeting with many representatives of other churches over the last few months, I have seen just how different the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints approaches everything. It is not just about intensive Bible scholarship, but rather sincere Spiritual confidence in the answers we receive from God. It is truly amazing that the Lord in His infinite wisdom knew that the wisdom of men could not be a suitable enough foundation for the testimonies of His faithful children. For one thing, we could not understand everything as well as He does in the first place because our Human Minds simply just can't - our hearts on the other hand, can absolutely understand what love means, peace, and joy. This was something we could understand and as such, it becomes the foundation of our testimony. Yes, we need to use our minds, but always and forever, the heart will have the final word.

As the Spirit of God touches our minds and our hearts, there will be unity. This is how we can know what is true and what is not. Regardless of the evidence brought forward against Christ, the Church, doctrine, or procedures, my question is always the following: "Well, if it's all not true, then explain to me the fruits."

Yes, my testimony is not solely founded on the fruits of living the Gospel - it is strengthened by all means - but my testimony is founded upon the witness received from God Himself that the Book of Mormon is true. I know it is true. And anyone that wishes to come into full-faith in this world and this Church as the Restored church of Jesus Christ - and if anyone wishes to leave this precious Church - they must go through the Book of Mormon to do so. God is so wise in allowing us to so simply build the surest foundation; a foundation that the gates of hell cannot prevail against so long as we are worthy of that testimony and live accordingly.

Keep praying for our people here and our country of Urkaine. She needs the Gospel.

I love you!
Elder Claypool

PS - On a more sad note, last Monday I put my flash drive in the computer to download pictures, forgot it, and the next day it was gone.....second time for losing all my photos from my I hope that you have time to take all that I send you and save those. It stinks. But there are more important things than photos.
Hi Mom!

You sure do deserve what I said! You define what I said :)

Okay, I will answer your questions from the start:

We are keeping very warm and we have plenty of warm clothes. There's only been one time that we've been unprepared for the weather, and in that situation we headed home to get reprepared :)

I actually haven't really gotten sick at all on my mission. There have been times that I have gotten a cold or had some stomach problems, but they were never serious enough to take me from the work (that's actually a fulfillment of my setting-apart blessings :) )

Political unrest...just keep praying for the country. There are demonstrations almost daily now, but we keep away from them, and do what we do best :) The Mission President is keeping us all on the awares if we need to do anything, but luckily Sumy is a pretty small city. It is getting pretty bad from what we have heard. But we really are fine. 

Dima and Nicolai? They are doing wonderful! Keep praying now for Nicholai's family who we are going to start teaching today. He is already set on Baptism! But he is still keeping back for some reason...i think it is because he received an answer that he needs to be baptized in a river :) But it gives us time to work with his family and baptize them all together. Dima is progressing and could be one of the greatest Ukrainian missionaries the world will ever know...we just need to help him gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. Volodia is moving closer and closer to baptism with the goal to quit smoking this week to be ready for his baptism on the 15th of February. He is doing just wonderful! He was practrically an athiest when we met him, but now he is reading the BOok of Mormon every day and praying too. Not to mention he comes to church and is really becoming part of our small Sumy family. We're also getting a few of our members to the temple this next month or two and our recent convert here in the branch is going to be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood soon and has already been to the temple to do baptisms! There is just real progress here, but we need to keep going. Satisfaction is of Satan, Gratitude is of God. :)

I did get the watch and gave it to him...he almost kissed me because he was so happy. He's just a great man and has a lot on his shoulders. Thank you so much for that!

On to the unfun questions...

I have no clue what classes I need to register for nor have I thought about it. Can you figure out deadlines of class registrations? What you will need to do is first contact the department of admissions and see what needs to be done to renew my enrollment at BYU. I'm currently defferring my studies. So once you find out the date, we can know if I'll have time when I get home, or if I need to do it sooner. As to the question of housing, I think that I would love to room with Elder Harrison here on the mission and can get all the infor that you need. When do we need to figure out housing? So I think the next step is just getting dates and deadlines and then planning from there. Thanks so much mom for all that you are doing! It really helps me to stay focused on the work!

My thoughts about Korm...what makes you think that he wont be ready? Just that he really hasn't been away from home yet? Well..................all I can say is that maybe you could just reemphasize with him to make it a matter of prayer and fasting if he hasn't already where he weighs out all his decisions, makes a decision and then asks Heavenly Father if that is right. Timing really is everything. It probably wouldn't be bad for you and dad to make it a matter of prayer and fasting too to see what counsel Heavenly Father has for you both...other than that, I can't really give any more advice :) Every missionary is different and all that they need is different. Elder Ellsworth, my last companion, went to school for a year before his mission, and he turned out just fine. Another elder didn't and he's doing wonderful now all depends on the person. But in any case, HEavenly Father knows best :)

I love you mom! Thank you so much for your prayers and consitent and faithful support of me out here. It is so wonderful to have such! I love you!

Elder Claypool

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