Sunday, March 2, 2014

Volodia Baptized!!!!!! Feb 17, 2014


"Diligence isn't achieved by quota, but by giving all that we are able to give".

Thank you so much for your letter. I feel like being on a mission gives me a better ability to understand you and mom and have a more full relationship with you both.

It's kind of like or relationship with Heavenly Father. As we come to do what He does, we come to better know Him.

Before my mission you were both my parents and although we were a close family, there was that natural separation I still love and respect you as my parents, but I feel that the relationships have deepened over this last while to the point where we have become more and more like friends who understand each other. I don't know if that makes sense since it is a little hard to express how I feel about it, but it feels really good. I look forward to just being able to have talks between us on a level of understanding that we couldn't have had before my mission because of my lack of life experience. I have a lot to learn, but the future is bright.

I'm also really looking forward to the opportunity to see you all again and my heart breaks just thinking about it...but I love my Father in Heaven and I covenanted with him to serve till the end, and I love the people of Ukraine and being a missionary! The church is true.

This last week I was able to see many miraculous things like the baptism and confirmation of Volodia. It was such a joyous moment to see him be baptized and then to participate in his confirmation. It is even more amazing to see how much he is changing! However amazing the experiences this week, I was tired. I was feeling that we had built up to this moment and my energy was just spent. I literally was just falling asleep during our companion study. With all of this happening, I relaxed spiritually and wasn't as diligent as I could have been...but in repenting and seeking inspiration from my Heavenly Father, I realized that I can't go on on my own. He is giving me an opportunity to rely on Him even more and use His grace. Like Peter in the water after he began to sink, I can't even keep my head above water without my Savior. The amazing thing is that I was able to learn that in these times of trial and hardship just where our strength to endure comes from: Loving the Lord and loving others.

I read in the scriptures the other day about Alma the Younger leading his followers into battle against the contriving forces of Amlici. The army, because they relied on the Lord, was strengthened and were able to defeat not only the Amlicites, but also the Lamanites when they came and joined forces. It could have been a crippling blow for the band of Alma when the beaten Amlicites were rejuvenated by the numberless hosts of the Lamanites, but they drew within themselves, called upon the Lord and were strengthened.

As a whole, we fight for the right purposes and seek to do the will of God. We will then be strengthened in Him. But what about when that just doesn't seem to be enough? When I walk the streets I try to do what is right, but at times I just don't have very much energy, spiritually and physically. For those situations, the Lord gave us the example of Alma the Younger specifically a few verses later. He was battling furiously with Amlici sword to sword. He believed in God and was a righteous man who called upon the Lord, but his focus didn't end with just a plea for strength. He prayed for strength in order to be an instrument in the hands of God to save his people. Only when others become our 'why' will we have enough strength to endure. The greater the cause, the greater the strength. When we fight for our Savior and when we fight for our loved ones, we gain spiritual and physical strength to fight our battles. In fact, no longer do we fight our own battles, but the Lord fights them with us and even for us at times.

I'm coming to learn what it means to "wait upon the Lord". There are great promises that come from doing so. I can't imagine what it is like to have lost Hilai and now CJ (even though she has a great opportunity for her family) but Heavenly Father is molding my amazing earthly father even more. Read Isaiah 40:28-3. I pray for you and will continue to.

Diligence is not achieved by meeting some objective quota, but by giving all that we are able to give. Some days that may mean we can run the full 3 miles. Some days that may mean we can even go the extra mile. And some days it means that the most we can give is to limp our way to the next checkpoint. The Lord does not expect the same objective amount of effort and energy from every person. He requires all of one's individual all. And when we give that, no matter what it be, His Grace takes care of the rest. We can't run faster than we have strength.  But regardless of how much you can give, just keep giving. You have an incredible heart with an incredible capacity to give. Don't hesitate to ask Heavenly Father to send a bit of Grace your way. I've seen in my life what a lasting difference my works have when His hands are in the making.

I love you! If I didn't love the Lord more I would be on the next plane home, but my duty is a reviving reminder to serve my Redeemer.  I am so happy to be in Ukraine serving.

Elder Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Thanks for your email! This last week was just wonderful with many ups and downs, but I will tell you about the biggest up: 

Volodia was baptized! It was such an amazing thing to see him be baptized and all the members that were there to support him! He came such a long way: We found him on December 25th in the evening when we were on our way home. We walked passed him and there was just a small, subtle thought to stop and talk with him. So we did. Gave him a Book of Mormon, and a few days following we were able to start meeting with him. He knew the Bible really well, but didn't believe it, thought that his knowledge was sufficient to save himself using the laws of physics, and that the existence of God was not even a big question in his mind: He wasn't an atheist, but also wasn't anywhere close to believing in God. So we kept meeting with him and had some lessons where it just didn't seem like we were going any where. It even got to the point that he didn't really want to meet with us. We didn't know what to do and felt that we needed to go by again...but we did, but this time with a member. Finally, having a member on one of our lessons, the Spirit was so strong and from that moment he began to change. He accepted a date of baptism because he felt that he needed to...something inside told him to say yes. There were still problems with the Word of Wisdom, but he had felt the Spirit and we kept going from there. There were many ups and downs where my faith was shaking or his faith was shaking, but after some extremely powerful experiences that I wrote about two weeks ago and lots of prayer and fasting, Volodia was ready this last Saturday to be baptized. He was baptized in a small hotel spa since our little branch doesn't have a font, but that didn't stop him for a moment. He was ready, willing, and wanted to change. The changes that came into his life are not yet complete...but he is a completely different person! The joy that filled my heart when he was baptized was just...unexplainable. He knew that he was making a covenant with God and he did with all his heart. To hear his humble testimony and to see then the next day him be confirmed and become a full-fledged member of the Lord's Restored Church was only half the blessing. To see the change in him was even more rewarding. Though he had a problem with smoking and couldn't quit until a little under a week before his baptism, after his baptism with his newly acquired spiritual strength, he was able to tell his neighbors no - something that he wasn't able to do before. Not only that, but yesterday night after he had been confirmed he came with us to go tracting out of his own desire. He even called me this morning just to say that he had read his scriptures  and had almost endured all of Isaiah in 2 nephi ;). The Gospel of Jesus Christ as Restored by Joseph Smith truly changes hearts. A man who was far from what is now is now on the path to eternal life. It really is worth it to follow those small promptings, open your mouth, and follow through in faith. The results are eternity changing. 

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In more ways than one, it was a very white weekend :)

I love you mom! 

Elder Claypool

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