Friday, April 11, 2014

From Sumy to Kharkov - Mar. 17, 2014

 "What do you choose"

So many people have trials of Faith.  It is a joy to help even atheists learn of truth. The Spirit softens their hearts...but then with trials and lack of diligence, many fall again into not believing in God and it seems firmer than before. It is absolutely heart-breaking to see people give up happiness.

As disciples of Christ we often wonder "am I doing any good in the world today?"  We may serve well, but when we watch people go inactive, missionaries wonder if they just added more former investigators to the pile or one more less-active to the ward roster...but, the Spirit doesn't confirm that idea and I know that we are on the Lord's side in a great battle against the adversary.  We are who we choose to be.

I sanctify myself even more for these my people in their time of need. Grace is needed.

I know how to be a missionary and how to share the Gospel. I really enjoy it. I love to teach...and it will be interesting to see what The Lord wants me to do after my mission.  I cannot believe I will be back in school this fall !

Thank you so much for your dedicated service. We had a really wonderful lesson yesterday in Gospel Principles about sacrifice. I had never thought about sacrifice as a necessary characteristic to become like our Heavenly Father. Our Father is willing to give all to us. How can we even come closer to him or become a little like him if we are not focused on others and ready to give all. For God so loved the world that he gave. Thank you for pointing me even further on the path to our Heavenly Father.

So, its time to finish this chapter of my mission and move on to the next. Yep. I received a transfer to serve now in Kharkov and leave this wonderful branch and area here in Sumy. There are so many thoughts in my head and heart that I hope I will be able to express and I pray the Spirit will help me do so. This was one of the greatest periods of growth in my life here in Sumy. I feel that here was a special place of pre-earth life fulfillment. There were so many people that I have met, befriended, and some what helped. As always, my mission and this service has given me so much more that I've given to it...but I guess that's the way it will always be. It was a little hard for me not only to be leaving, but seeking approval from Heavenly Father that I had done all that I was called to do here...there were times when we had a lot of investigators and when we had little to no investigators. But I just wanted to know from Heavenly Father that it was enough. With Elder Harrison and President of the Branch we were able to sing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" and mid song the Spirit impressed me as we sang the following words (they are translated from their Russian text to English because the English words differ a little): "I know all, he said to me. Don't fear, for you have helped me." There were plenty of times here in Sumy when I was a far-from perfect servant. There were many days that I needed to repent and get back on top, but He knows all that. He knows all our bad days and all our good days...and He loves us still. Even in all my silly mistakes, he still forgives me when I repent and His graces makes my far from sufficient efforts sufficient. While I was sitting there looking at the congregation from the Sacrament table, I was just able to remember. Though there were not 50 people there as I had wished, though there weren't hundreds that were baptized, and though it would look like there was little change, the Spirit said differently. When the branch sang "God be with you till we meet again" that hymn became more than just music and words for me, but rather a prayer to protect this wonderful branch and all its members. Then on the second hour our investigator Nicholai broke down in tears (this is a Soviet Military man crying over a 20-year old kid) and proceeded to pray to Heavenly Father to bless and keep my path. It's really important to say that the most important name on my tag is and always will be the name of my Savior not mine...but it is a rare blessing that God gives us to peak into just how much we make a difference. The day continued with rejections and imperfections, but that's what makes this life -life. I came to Sumy extremely imperfect. I had to relearn how to love missionary work and to do the Lord's will with a full heart. The scriptures here in Sumy have opened up to me more than ever before. My relationship with my Savior has increased in quite, yet firm steps. And now I leave Sumy still imperfect, with more to learn, more to do, and closer to get to my Savior. But it was not time wasted in my life or in the lives of others. I am eternally grateful that I could be here in Sumy. I guess I can't and wont ever be able to express how I feel especially in an email...but my heart is washed over in gratitude to my God that for five short and extremely fast months, I could serve the people here in Sumy. What ever our calling, let us magnify it. In this is growth. In this is happiness. I remember when I sat in President Lochhead's office knowing that I would be then serving in Sumy and I thought to myself: "What next?" I had already felt that I had learned a lot, served in almost every assignment, and honestly didn't know what Sumy held in store for me. I came to serve the people...and I am so grateful that the Lord knew what was next and allowed me to experience it. On to the next chapter :)

I love you mom! Tell Korm and the twins that I love them too! 

Elder Claypool

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