Sunday, May 18, 2014

Elder MaKade Claypool home safe from Ukraine April 29, 2014

"Love to serve those around you" April 21, 2014 Final letter from Ukraine

 Hello all my family!

It has been just an incredible week for me this last week for various reasons :) but it has been yet another week filled with learning.

We have over 200 missionaries right now in our mission here in Kiev and that means a whole lot of missionary work is getting done. Very exciting. Personally for us, we weren't able to see a whole lot this week, but we are doing our best to take care of what the Lord has given us.

I love this thought--  'those placed in our path and those the Father gives us to love'. All of them are for us to grow! And if we have a hard time doing so, my counsel reflects the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Enlarge your heart towards all men until you feel of necessity to take them upon your shoulders.

Isn't that so true?  We need to love all those around us.  Like Isaiah wrote (but I will share it in my own words so bare with me) -- we will carry our brothers and sisters upon our shoulders and be their nursing kings and nursing queens -- in otherwords we will serve with love.

That is really the theme of all Christ-like discipleship. Yes, there is sacrifice, there are callings to fulfill, there are commandments to obey; but, when it all comes down to it all our good works really do stream from our Love to God and then accordingly to ourselves and our fellowmen.

Even in our Savior's last week He continued to serve until the end.  He never stopped serving.

The following scriptural passage really touched my heart this week as I thought about my love towards my fellowmen all around the world and my service towards them as a natural result of my love: "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end...Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; (in other words, having received all things and really being set in the eternal scheme of things, understanding that he was the literal Son of God and was soon to be above all things...) He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded" (John 13:1-5).

Ok, now stop and take a minute to just think about what kind of man our Savior really is. He was and is not ever far from the experiences that we have. I find solace and comfort in His life story because I see just what He did when was faced with a situation that I may now (or will someday) be in. Whether that be keeping His peace, testifying with boldness, taking a break because he was hungry (I like that one), true weeping, desiring to let His trials pass from Him, and His faithfulness in completely and utterly serving to the end. Our Master is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

In this Easter season, I want to thank you for helping me come to better know my Savior because of your wonderful examples.  And as dad says and I totally agree and express my heart that you (mom) for me are an example of Christ-like love and service. I can't even express how many times that I am awed by your example of Christ. I love you so much!

Can you imagine it that my farewell was given nearly two years ago on Mother's Day? There's no doubt in my mind why Christ's mother was extremely important to Him. So I try to emulate His example.
He lives. And because of Him we will again.

I think Ukraine is the only place on the planet that instead of saying "Hello....or Happy Easter" on Easter, the Ukrainians instead say: "Christ is risen!" and in response you say to them "Yes of truth, He is risen!"

I love my Savior so much and am so grateful that I have such a Savior, Teacher, Master, Friend, and Brother.  (I guess I do have an older brother so I am the middle child MaKormick! Smile).

Strengthen your relationship with Him and then share the results.

Pray for the people of Ukraine.

Elder Claypool

Letter received from mom of a missionary in Kiev - April 19, 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Claypool,
My son is a missionary in the Kyiv Ukraine missionary, and is the district leader in the area of Kyiv where your son is now serving. In his letter home on Monday, our son spoke of your son and I was so impressed that I wanted to share his comments with you.

This past week was a really good week.  It was without a doubt the most stressful week of my life, and I got almost zero sleep, but I saw the hand of the Lord in it incredibly powerfully!  So to start, I will answer a major question that I have been asked.  Yes, the Donetsk missionaries did evacuate to our mission, and yes, they are now serving in our mission.  To go into a little more detail about that, they have been integrated into our mission, and are serving around, and with, us.  Honestly, they are really great!
So yeah, that was probably the main part of this week.  Donetsk is now in Kiev.  I was also very blessed by the Lord to get really good missionaries!  A couple of them are struggling right now, understandably.  I know that I would be very distraught if I had to leave the place that I love so much and go somewhere else.  But they are making do.  I am trying my best to help them acclimate, and I think it is working pretty well.  They truly are very good missionaries, especially one.  This is another reason why I am super grateful to the Lord.  Elder Claypool is his name.  He is in his 15th transfer, and I have never in my entire life met a better missionary.  He is everything I could ever want to be.  He is smiling 24/7, and is ALWAYS happy, but I have never seen someone more focused on something than he is on missionary work.  He is the only person who is not down in the dumps right now, and he has the most reason to be.  Two days before he came here, he set three baptismal dates with people, and then, out of the blue, he found out that he would be leaving them to come here.  You know what he has done here?  He has talked to basically every person he has seen, and not let the move affect him one bit.  I don't know if I can put into words the amount of respect I have for him.  I have seen good, even great missionaries before-- our mission is filled with them-- but he is something special.  He is also great because he doesn't act like he is in his 15th transfer.  He is the most humble, modest person I have seen.  He was the AP at one point during his mission, and yet now, he acts as though he is just a normal missionary.  He doesn't try to take over and do things himself because he was an AP; he just silently helps and gives advice when asked.  I don't know how to explain it, but I can say honestly, I have never met a missionary that I respect more than I do Elder Claypool.  I hope that I can be half the missionary that he is by my 15th transfer. "

I'm sure your son must be saddened by having to leave his mission, but if he ever wonders, please let him know that he has already done a wonderful work in Kyiv by being such an example. I know an eighteen-year-old district leader  (and his parents) will be forever grateful to Elder Claypool. And thanks to you for rearing such a wonderful son.

Best wishes,
Mary Jensen

Kiev, Ukraine April 14, 2014 “Christ-like love is the key to Christ-like obedience.”

Yep, we are now in Kiev! Pretty crazy right? Less than one week ago we were in Kharkov just doing missionary work and then Tuesday morning we got a phone call from President and Sister Lochhead. It was at first kind of hard to swallow that I would be leaving my mission early - I didn't know if I would be staying or if they would be sending me home early, so I was a little nervous - but all things as usual are turning out to be the Lord's will - which is always the best. From that phone call we had about 24 hours to get all packed up, say goodbye to all our investigators, and hand them over to the members. Our mission was at an all time high in many areas and we were just having a wonderful time. We of course asked the question "why?" but the Lord really does know what He is doing. He has been preparing the mission for all the changes. When I was serving in the office our average weekly number of lessons with investigators that had a member present on them was 80 at its highest...and this last week before we were transferred we were almost to 140. Almost all of our key investigators in the mission had a member ready to take over. We were at first a little worried about our investigator, but as soon as we took time to plan out who was going to take care of who, our fears melted away as our faith increased in the wisdom of the Lord: All of our investigators have members that are ready to take over. What better way to get the members involved in missionary work and furthering their participation in the work of salvation, than taking all the full-time missionaries out and letting the members continue on. It will be a refining fire for our mission, but the members will become even better because of it. I just imagine what it will be like when the missionaries do return and their efforts are added to the efforts of missionary work of the members - the work will soar.

So we made it to Kiev safely (i didn't smell to good after a day and a half of traveling...but that's why you pack deodorant near the top of your suitcases :) ) Almost flawlessly we were able to get out of our varied cities in our mission and head to Kiev only to be met by smiling missionaries who were ready to help us with the tons and tons of luggage that we all had. It was pretty funny just how much we had and just how much we tried to fit in the individual coupes on our train...but it all worked out :). It is definitely different to be in Kiev...I always mistakenly say 'branch' instead of 'ward' and 'branch president' instead of 'bishop'...but it was a miraculous feeling and sight to see the Kiev temple. I haven't seen one of our temples in a long time, - but it was a wonderful spirit to feel just what that building means for thousands upon thousands of living and dead here in the Slavic lands. Their meetings here are in Ukrainian, so I am feeling like a really new missionary with a new area, new mission, and a new language. But in all of it, there is still a sacred feeling of peace that pervades it all. We are still missionaries, we are here to serve, and we expect to help those the Lord has called us to help here. There are now 16 missionaries in our ward, but with over 150 members it's a little less noticeable. :) 

We did have an opportunity to watch General Conference! I was just amazed by the immense Spirit that was carried during the testimonies of the Prophet, his counselors, and all the Quorum of the Twelve. Are we blessed to have  living prophet and apostles that literally speak the will of God for our day and time? ANY person can watch conference and truly feel such a spirit and receive answers to their questions. There were so many amazing messages that touched my heart and helped me to be better, but I think more than anything else, the Spirit helped me to realize two things: God really does love us and wants us to follow His Son Jesus Christ, who lives and guides His own Church, and that we need to continuously strive to be the best disciples of Christ that we can be. As President Eyring said: We hold the happiness of more individuals than we can even imagine. Yes, we do not decide their fate - only they can do that - but we do influence their lives in such great ways that we can be the catalysts or cross-roads for them to choose eternal happiness or eternal loneliness. It's hard to do the right thing at times...but I can promise that we will find strength every time to do what is right when we do it for those we love, both born and unborn. As our Prophet counseled: Have courage to do what is right because it is right. In this upcoming Easter season, I wish to add my witness to the love, mercy, reality, and divinity of our loving Savior Jesus Christ. He lives and loves us. Only through Him can we find happiness. Just try it. Try living by His Way and I promise as His representative that you will receive eternities more than you could ever have imagined. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Way. 

I love you Mom! Keep doing that missionary work like Elder Ballard taught! :) We'll conquer our friends together when we get back :)
Wow! I did not know Derek Anderson is to be married.  That is great.  Any details?  Please congratulate him as I assume he will be married before I get home.
Thank you for your letter and for all the support you give.   Just like Elder Scott and President Eyring talked about it in general conference, we all have our heroes that help us to grow. Thank you for being a hero. You have no idea just how much every good decision you make influences each person you come in contact with.
I came away from conference realizing that I need to continue to develop more charity for all men and for my Father and Savior. Life is so much better when we are serving out of love and not just because we are forcing ourselves to do so. Like Elder Hales said: Christ-like love is the key to Christ-like obedience.
We really could use more love in the world, and when we take the time to truly say with all our heart that we love God and our fellow men as ourselves, life all of the sudden fits into place wherever that place may be.
I'm in a new chapter now in Kiev, but as always there are lessons to learn and to teach, people to serve and to love, and so that's what I'll do. The simplicity of the life of a disciple is so breathtakingly beautiful. Aren't we privileged to have what we have? And as was said in General Conference: The people around us are those we are given to love and serve.
Thank you for being a stark example for me of service and love. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Letter received notifying of missionaries being moved to Kyiv, Ukraine mission - April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014


To Parents of Missionaries in the Ukraine Donetsk Mission


            Re:  Status Update


Dear Brothers and Sisters:


Due to the continued unrest in this region, the Church has chosen to transfer the 85 young missionaries from the Donetsk Ukraine Mission to serve in other areas within Ukraine.  Last night all of the missionaries boarded trains from Donetsk and Kharkov for Kyiv.  Missionaries serving in the outlying cities had traveled to Donetsk and Kharkov on Wednesday.  We do not know how long this transfer will be necessary, and we hope that it will not be long.  Sister Lochhead and I met yesterday for a testimony meeting with the missionaries in the Donetsk region, and we briefly joined by telephone a similar meeting being held in Kharkov.  Listening to your sons and daughters share their testimonies was one of the great events of my Church experience.  You would have been proud to listen to them and feel of their spirit.


Saying good-bye even temporarily to our missionaries was very painful, and my wife and I shed more than a few tears, but we are confident it is the right thing to do.  The transfer is being made as a precautionary measure after prayerful consideration and counseling among Church leaders in Salt Lake City and at the Area Headquarters in Moscow.  I am thankful for their unfailing support and wise counsel.  The safety and wellbeing of the missionaries has always been the top priority.  Our three faithful senior couples have remained here with Sister Lochhead and me, and we will work with the local Church members to try as best we can to maintain the positive momentum created by the efforts of your sons and daughters until they can return.  Again I thank you for sending them here.  For Sister Lochhead and me it has been one of the richest experiences of our lives to serve with them.  We honor and respect each one dearly.


Warm regards,


s/Robert Lochhead

President, Ukraine Donetsk Mission

"Salvation is an individual matter; Exaltation- a family matter" - Apr. 7, 2014 - HAPPY BDAY ELDER CLAYPOOL!!!!!!

Thank you so much for your email this week and for helping to allow me to be able to be here. We are so blessed to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. It helps me realize a few things: 1) We are privileged to experience all the trials and blessings of this world,  2) We have freely received this life and thus should freely give to others and our Savior, and 3) How can we not love life when we understand so much?! The Lord is just so merciful.

With every day I have been trying to be more and more focused, and some times I don't make the difficulties of missionary work easier by beating up on myself...but I am growing.

We have been super blessed to have another investigator accept a baptismal date and now work towards it. He'll be a wonderful missionary someday too! Our investigator Sanya is progressing with flying colors and soon his mom should be doing well too. We just need to keep on keeping on. Thank you so much for all that you have done and all that you haven't done. I truly can say on this day of my birth that I have been born of goodly parents (I know you always say mom is best).

I love you!  I read quote in a member's home I really enjoyed in Russian. The translation is:  "Salvation is an individual matter; Exaltation- a family matter".

Thanks so much for bringing me in to the world!!!!!! As I was saying my evening prayers last night and morning prayers today, I was overcome with gratitude for all the blessings that I have received in my relatively short 21 years of life...and truly all I have to show for it is to point fingers at others who have given me life and given it to my with abundance. My Father in Heaven, My Savior, You Both, and all the many brothers and sisters that have mentored me and helped me to be who I am today. Isn't it funny how on our birthday's we focus on ourselves when in all reality it should be a day of even greater giving back for the fact we received life freely. "Freely ye have received, freely give" the Savior said...I'm still working on the whole selfless thing, but we'll get there eventually :)

This last week went by incredibly fast. I have been battling with keeping focused as usual, but I guess it keeps me humble realizing my weaknesses. I was really studying this week what it means to serve the Lord with all our mind, and realized that just thinking about the mission and nothing else seemed a little too superficial of an answer for me - its not a principle that I can apply after my mission. So in studying more and more, I realized that our minds and our wills are very closely related. When we serve the Lord with all our mind, we are constantly searching for His will in all things. In seeking the will of the Lord more in my thoughts rather than worrying about whether or not I was focused on the work, I have found the words of Isaiah to ring true: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (26:3). I am finding great peace in just seeking the will of the Lord and "look[ing] unto [Him] in every thought" (D&C 6:36).

Our area is going well with a slower week, but with still lots of potential. Sanya is doing just wonderful and even came to church with us this week! He also aided us with service on the cabins of one of the members. The members are doing a wonderful job of finding and helping to friendship our members here.  It was wonderful to have the member who struggled with quiting smoking for many, many years be able to just have a heart to heart with our investigator multiple times throughout the day. Sanya looked so good at church this Sunday! He came to church this Sunday in his suit, tie, white shirt, and slacks. The Gospel Principles teacher didn't even recognize him as an investigator :) He still has a ways to go, but the Gospel is literally transforming his life from captivity to freedom. His mom is also sitting in on the lessons now and even reading the Book of Mormon! Any person who wants a better life: daily read the Book of Mormon and apply what you read. There is truly power within that book. It is truly from God. We also have two other investigators who are on date that are both member referrals, Yuri who is a sweet man that has been through a lot and just wants to change his life for the better, and Sasha who is the son of a member, 17, and extremely spiritually mature...he'll make a wonderful missionary soon :) It's been super nice that they are member referrals as well because when one of them was sick this last week and we were unable to meet, the member was with him almost everyday because of work. So the work is moving forward. Thank you so much for your prayers!

I love you mom and am far from perfection...but we are moving forward to our best selves :)
Elder Claypool

PS- We will be watching General Conference this weekend and I am super excited!
PPS- Nina, the red-haired lady, is moving forward, but slower. The members again are playing a crucial roll in her returning to activity :)

Happy Birthing-Me-Day :)

Aren't We Privileged to Be Participants? - Mar. 31,2014

I'll be praying for Ky and fasting for her!

Tell Lydia that I will be super excited to see her and I love her.

And for this week:

We were able to see just so many tender mercies this week especially with a man named Sanya who is was on really hard drugs for about a year and a half. He gave them up two months ago and in order to quit, took up really heavy drinking...and here come the missionaries knocking on his door :) He let us in (and if not for the Spirit giving the okay we would have not gone in...) and we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and set up a return appointment. That was a little over a week ago...and now, he is down to a few grams of alcohol every 24 hours, is reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day. It is incredible to see that only the fullness of the Gospel would have the strength to take him out of the hole he got himself in, even hospitals have rejected him considering him hopeless...and some of the sweetest moments of my mission have been with this man who is trying just so hard to change his life against all odds. Because of the drugs, his brain suffered a lot of damage...but that doesn't stop the Spirit from literally fusing his neurons together and helping him understand fundemental truths that have the power to make him free. Only the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and through the Book of Mormon has and will have enough strength and power to combat the adversary in these days and in the darker days to come. "Does God love me?" He has asked time and time again. "I'm pretty sure that He hates me for what I've done." And with full heart and testimony of the redeeming love of our Savior eternities echo as we are able to repeat just as often as the question is posed: "Yes Sanya. He loves you so much." As the prophet Isaiah poetically put: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 9:17). Though we must repent - and often that repentance is painful - I testify that His hands are always stretched out still.

Are we privileged to be participants?

I love you mom!
Have a wonderful week and tell the twins that I love them too!
Elder Claypool