Sunday, December 23, 2012

recent photos


Dec. 17
Well I'm glad to hear that everything is all right with you! That's a little spooky, but I'm grateful for medications. I received the package too! and opened it excitedly to find that all was wrapped...tricky but seriously, doesn't the mission take enough patience?! ;) I'm super excited to talk to you all in a week or two. I'm also glad to hear all is good with you.

Yep, its finally here: winter. -15 C was pretty cold last night on the streets contacting and tracting, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to be more in the Christmas Spirit and also to show our diligence to Heavenly Father. This last week was pretty quick and abnormal because most of the time was spent preparing Elder Harvey for the trek home. He was super nervous and we were inside a lot this last week, and it made me think of going home a lot this last week, however, the Lord again is helping me get refocused and figuring out my next steps to let the mission go through me. One of the greatest blessings of my mission thus far has been seeing Elder Harvey change. I came to an Elder who completely thought of his mission as a failure of prophecy and a black mark int he history of his existence. I was able to say goodbye to an Elder that I loved with all my heart, who was at peace completely, tattered and broken, but not for one second giving up. We were so lucky to spend the darkest moments of his life together and then see the horizon climbing back out of the holes. The wisest counsel that I received in regards to helping him when I was banging my head on a wall and knees on the ground trying to figure out how I can help him was from you actually: Only the Savior can truly help people change; we can try, but not succeed. People are to be loved and always to be invited to Christ through our own coming unto Christ. We invite through example, and help them receive and accept that which the Lord has given us to continue forward. And from this incredible missionary I learned diligence. What an incredible missionary! He will be missed! 

After we said goodbye to him at the airport at 4am in the morning ( that was a tiring day after that ;) I was thinking a lot about my mission and what to do, and then I was able to have an incredible conversation with an older missionary who was able to help me realize that I have a lot to look forward to and need to take control of my mission. I'm entering chapter 3 of this once in a lifetime novel of my mission. I'm staying in my area and will be till mid-February, and in a three-some with a Ukrainian who speaks no English and our district leader. Thursday I receive my new companion to continue the work forward. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that the Lord is in charge ad that we are in his hands. His hands are in the makings. I love you all and I am 9 hours ahead of you. if I call you late at night it will be morning in Hawaii. we only have one more P-day to figure it out, so figure out a concrete time and then let me know...hopefully it will work for me. Almost all day the 25th we should be inside to do festivities in Ukraine ;)
Love you and can't wait to talk to you all!
Elder Claypool


Hey Mom!

That's good to hear that the package has finally arrived! I was a little worried, but not too much. I haven't heard anything of your package, but I'm sure it will come. Keep up the amazing work at your calling and the amazing work that you do as a mom. There is a lady in my ward who has a huge family even for Ukraine and her sons are pretty...crazy ;) We were able to have a good talk about how even though now it may seem like they are not going anywhere that eventually they will realize the influence that righteous parents had on them. I was able to use you and dad as prime examples. I'm so grateful that you chose to stay active in this church because there are so many parents here who are less active and in their own self-interest are leading their family away from the only way to eternal happiness. It is amazing to me to testify on the streets that yes, I have a forever-family. (and that forever will be a wonderful time with them too ;))

This last week I was able to learn a very important lesson. I had a split with one of the Assistants to the president and was able to learn so much and talk about all these questions that I had, and also see what kind of a missionary I want to become. Elder Mironchenko (born in Russia, moved to us, and was baptized 2 years ago) is an incredible example! I was wondering why here in my area that we would receive all these contacts and have all this work to do and yet seemingly see little to no success. We've had little success here and there, but nothing very large. Without directly addressing the topic, he said these words: "How can we expect the Lord to bless us with more, if we cannot even take care of that what he has given us." He wont place his precious sons and daughters into our hands unless he know that we will do our part as representatives of his Son in helping them become converted. I haven't been very diligent. However, this gives me a new goal to work earn the trust of my Heavenly Father.

With Elder Harvey going home and a new Elder in our district it was a pretty crazy week in just firsts that have never happened before: We have been blessed to use the priesthood a lot in bringing the sacrament to bed-ridden members, blessings of comfort and healing, and even using the authority of the priesthood and calling of a missionary to make promises to these people in the Name of Jesus Christ literally speaking on behalf of him. I was able to go on a spilt with the new elder from Harkov, Ukraine and pretty much spoke nothing but Russian with him the entire 28 hours (yeah I even talk in Russian when I sleep ;). At church we had two new investigators at church and are working with the members a little better too! The mission is changing and there are a lot of opportunities to grumble and groan......but that's not the kind of disciples the Lord needs. I had the opportunity to play the piano in primary (a Sunday school class I can understand...for the most part ;) ) and got to give my first sacrament talk to prepare the way for President Campero's talk. I love that man so much! He's so inspired. My companion goes home Saturday and so this week will be a lot of preparing for that.

I'm not the perfect missionary and most of the things I lack on are because of my own choices to not do things I know I should. But this next week, I am going to be more diligent and true to what I know. It is worth it to love those who seemingly are not worth loving.

I love you all so much family! My family forever!

Elder Claypool
Love you and Merry Christmas!


As for this week, i have a really cool story to share with you:

It was a pretty busy week this week in Ukraine with a lot of miracles working with members, and also Satan working on me really hard to destroy the support and unity with my companion. He's only got 12 days left and Satan is working 24/7 (speaking of, there were two nights this week without electricity that we ended up having to go to the store to buy candles and only having Christmas candles to choose was a good memory!) So, needless to say, there was a lot that happened this week. One instance in particular was one of the coolest spiritual prompting stories I've had: We had a lesson with a member in the branch one night that lived only 15 min bus ride from our apartment. We walked to his place but the weirdest thought before we rang his door came to mind: "cancel the meeting." This member wasn't inactive, but wasn't super active or has many friends in the branch so I though it wouldn't be the best to I didn't know what my companion would think. But after fighting with myself I told my companion I felt that we should cancel with him for some reason I didnt know and then my wonderful companion trusting me called him and canceled the meeting. That is trust in my opinion, especially because being on a lesson is so much better at times than contacting or tracting when you're not in a good mood. He trusted me nonetheless. Upon calling him, we found out that he was doing a remodeling of his apartment and couldn't anyways, so at least that worked out, however, the Lord didn't not want us there so that we didn't interrupt the remodel. We thought that it would be good to maybe go visit our less-actives who actually lived in the next complex. We had already scheduled an appointment with this less-active the following Saturday, but decided to go there anyways. Not only was she there, and let us in, but her nephew, Nestor, who lives in a remote area of our area with his non-member mom and grandma who wont let us meet with him, was there too. I definitely doubted that it was a prompting at first, but when we are seeking to do right and simply follow what the Lord inspires us to do, even when we do not now 100% if it is a prompting, He will not leave us wanting. He's definitely helping us here in Ukraine and everywhere too!

I love you all!

Elder Claypool

PS- not cold at all and just rainy here :)


Hey family! I hope that you enjoy the thanksgiving pictures! It was super fun as my missionary family...wasn't as tasty as moms cooking, but when you have to make pumpkin pies from scratch, are eating Bolivian empinadas from Sister Campero, and your mission president is wearing an Indian head must be in Ukraine :)

Also, congrats to all the babies and moms, and family, and all. Its an exciting time of life for us all.

As the weeks go on its crazy to think how fast time flies...and I feel like I say that in every email, but it really does. This week I was able to try holodets which is essentially the gelatin, frozen chicken noodle soup that is so famous (or rather infamous) in this part of the world. It was pretty...well lets just say that I am grateful for the fact that there is always bread and additives on a Ukrainian table ;) We actually have incredible members here in the area, and as we try to get to know them better, our relationships improve and sooner rather than later, we are spiritually fed...and physically too ;) I did try to make your rolls for thanksgiving this week and they so weren't as good, but still reminded me of you.

Thanksgiving was indeed fun with all of the Donetsk zone, a ton of turkey, and odds and was pretty good for the fact that missionaries filled all the cooking assignments minus the turkey. So much fun! We really have incredible missionaries here in our in the world for this mission in my opinion. ;)

For anyone, there are things that we want to accomplish in this life. There are desires and dreams that we all have, but the question can sometimes be how we turn desires into determination and then to destinations. This last week for the beginning of the week I was pretty lazy, really didn't want to do my best, and as a result, I wasn't my best. Be your best self and do not settle. The Lord needs us to be who we were meant to be by submitting ourselves to him and giving our desires to him. He knows best. Set goals that reflect your desires, plan how to accomplish them, determinedly execute those plans, and then reap the rewards with the Help of the Lord. (aka PMG ch 8 ;) ) So then the question becomes "What are my desires?" Whatever they be, remember these two doctrines: (1) the Lord has given us the incredible power of choice to chose when our desires may be less than what they should. (2) The Spirit is there to plant righteous desires into our hearts. Align your desires to your destiny!

I Love you all

Elder Claypool

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prayer and Fasting really work!!!! November 19, 2012

Hello Friends and Family!!!!!!
its so good to hear from you and to see all these pictures...yeah its hard to focus back on the work, but if I use it for my advantage, then it helps me want to share this joy I feel with all the other families around me! Congrats to all the new missionaries and soon to be! Welcome to the becoming of a lifetime. Twins are playing volleyball? That is seriously one of my favorite sports to play since I came on a mission and played it almost every day in the MTC. So amazing! Happy anniversary too! Thank you for making the decision to get married in the temple and bless our lives as kids for eternity. My current missionary companion and I are totally different, but we have learned to love each other because we have the same goals. He only has 4 weeks left until he goes many thoughts in regards to that that I cannot put it on paper. I always had wanted to change him. Not because I thought he was bad, but just to help him be better. However, that picture we have back home over the fireplace, which wasn't a favorite picture of mine before, has now become my favorite picture for learning how to become a Christ-like leader and accept people. Look at the photo for awhile and then tell me next week what your thoughts are relating to your comments about teaching not by law and enforcement, but really by love and example. (feel free to quote me in your class...though I did pretty good with that quote... just kidding...humility... ;) ) you and dad absoluteluy taught me by example and I am who I am because of you. A few conversations I've had with missionaries: they ask why I am the way I am as we speak of how to improve and ask each other this same question. All I could honestly say is that I am who I am because of incredible parents (and some amazing friends along the way) and the hand of the Lord molding me. I really don't have any claim on my character other than to shrug my shoulders and point heaven-ward. Thank you for being that perfect example I needed to have.

This last week was the last week of transfer 2 in the field! Time is going by so fast and these last 6 weeks flew by. No doubt the next 4 weeks will pass quickly as we are preparing to send off Elder Harvey back to the faux life we call the real world. For all you who didnt know (and though jokingly I say this in all seriousness) Missionary work is real life. Life eternal is coming to know our Father, His Son, and being sanctified by yielding to the enticements of the Holy Ghost. All other lives are meaningful opportunities to prepare ourselves to assume our true roll as divine heirs of a Heavenly King. (see John 17:3 and Mosiah 3:19) and Choose Eternal Life. (John is a book found on the Bible and Mosiah is a book found in the Book of Mormon. The Bible is a record of writings from Israel region and Book of Mornon is a record from people that left Israel and lived in the Americas from 2300 BC - 500 AD)

Specifically on progress of our work, this week we had investigators come to church finally. After weeks of "maybes" we finally got them to come! Prayer and fasting really do work! Also, we were able to meet with an elderly lady in our branch named Valentina Sosnovskia. In getting to know her and her story, it was incredible to see all the sacrifices she had gone through to be here in the church. Some members here that I know had choices between their husband and church, work and church, or even live as they had lived. However, all these members notwithstanding the trials they faced pre-, and during, and post-baptism are still going strong. Yes, a lot of members have fallen away here, but that's why we never forget them and go to the rescue, whether baptized or not. Specifically this sister was baptized when I was 4 years old...and Heavenly Father knew that I would be there that night in the freezing, windy outskirts of Donets'k (it's starting to get just a little cold here, but no snow yet) and that we would be able to comfort, support, and give this woman a blessing through his Holy priesthood. We are in His hands, and His hands are in the details.

I love you all so much and have such a strong testimony of this work. I wasn't the best me I could be this last week and didn't do all that I can, but God is merciful, and after feeling the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the sweet taste of repentance. I am ready for a new week. After partaking of the sacrament and repenting and renewing your covenents, I hope you are all too.
Thank you so much for your advice and for all that you are as an example to me. Every night when I go to bed I look at my name badge and ask myself these questions before reporting to the Lord:

Elder: How have I represented my priesthood this day?
Claypool: How have I represented my family and all they do for me?
Church: How have I represented the beliefs and conduct of the Church, President Monson, President Pitcher, members and ward?
Saints: How have I represented the believing saints from Adam till now who have sacrificed for me?
Latter-Day Saints: How have I represented those who pay their precious tithing funds, and pioneers that died, and those that sacrifice in this world today?
Jesus Christ: How Have I represented my Savior this day? The question I dwell on the most.

I'm trying to work on accountability to the Lord and just making sure that that which he gives me to handle I carry out. (in principle this looks great, I just need to work on doing it ;)
You did tell me about the Book of Mormon reading in 19 days! That is so crazy! Im trying to read it in the next three months (a struggle for me since I dont prefer reading fast ;) and then the rest of the standard works all next year (Six pages a day).

To all -- with all the love I can give...from the land of cold.....and then on top of it the love given me from Heavenly Father,
Elder Claypool :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HIS HAND IS WITH YOU - November 12, 2012

Dear everybody-

Hope those pictures work for you mom!

I'm so glad to hear that all is still going well in the Homeland ;) Thanks for writing me. As to answer your questions, peanut butter is one of the only things that I really crave...and brown sugar is hard to get here in Ukraine too. Other than that I'm surviving.

We are teaching three people right now. It gives us the opportunity to be grateful for that which the Lord gives us. We do a lot of finding though. In fact, our main focus is finding members that have not consistently been coming to church. There are about 350 members on that list. It's interesting being in these rual areas of our city boundaries. It is very pretty yet discrete!

My companion finishes his mission and goes home at the middle December. This is the last week of my second transfer in country (crazy to think the time has gone by that fast!) and President Campos is letting us stay together till the end. What a privelage for me!

Yes mom I get to play piano. In fact, I play the piano for priesthood, but that's pretty much it. We do sing a lot of songs though every Sunday and pday (p day stands for preparation day. One day per week the missionaries have a p day. They use it to clean their apartment, do light exercise, laundry, write letters, do service acts for people). We sing on the busses and in the town squares. We find a lot of people that way.

So for this week, I just wanted to tell a few quick stories:

In the Book of Mormon, Mormon himself writes these beautiful words: Know ye not ye are in the hands of God? In Mormon 5:23. This is what I have come to gain testimony of for myself and for others. ("Mormon" was the name of the prophet that lived about 1,600 years ago. He had many journals that were handed down for generations. He read them and abridged them onto one set. Because of that, those records were named Book of Mormon. Mormon gave the written inscriptions to his son Moroni, the last recorded prophet in that book).

This last week I was able to go on a split with Elder Holmes, our district leader and have an incredible time! We talked, worked hard, and ate some incredible pizza scones that he made ;) I even tried to make your cider, mom...but I added way too much cinnamon, and it essentially just made our apartment smell good. We tried to drink it but it was horrible. I'm not quite perfect like you yet ;)

We found some incredible people this week and had some wonderful conversations about our companions. I had been praying to figure out what to do to help my companion and through our conversations about his companion, I was able to find out what I needed to do to help my companion: Love him! If we find the good in all, which is possible, there will not be a single person we will not like, or a single person we do not fulfill our duty in inviting them to Christ. Then came an incredible turn of events where Elder Holmes and I were able to have a conversation where something I learned at EFY years ago came forth and helped him ( EFY stands for Especially For Youth and it is an incredible program usually offered in the summer that teenagers love to attend. See more at ). Elder Holmes was able to use what I taught/shared with him later that day when he was helping my companion who had just broke down. Even talking with Elder Samuelson and helping each other out, there was only one thought in my mind that day: Only a loving all-knowing God could put us all together to help each other out, give us knowledge from years back that could help now, and make sure that all of us had the appropriate advice and words to specifically help the other. We are in His hands.

This week, yesterday in fact, we were singing as a district (district is a name used to describe usually groups of 8-10 missionaries that work in an area) and I was able to talk to a Muslim man named Muhhamad from Jordan. Thankfully he spoke English, but as he told me his story of how he miraculously passed these tests and got accepted to the med school in Ukraine, and listened to his testimony of God, exchanged contacts and set up an appointment, I couldn't deny that he too was in the hands of the Lord.

I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is in the fabric of our LIves. Look for His hand, and you'll find it carefully placed around you in the people closest. This is my testiomny from this week.

I love you all so much!

Elder Claypool

PS. Congrats on mission calls, let me know where they are serving. I met a girl from Armenia who just got back from Temple Square mission (she served in Salt Lake City, Utah) and knew Sister Eden Lake and loved her!
PSS. We've stood up on a bus twice now and preached to the whole Bus. Things are happening here in this part of His Vineyard: The Gathering of Isreal!!!!

Stay Determined through Trials - Nov. 5, 2012

Dear Family!

I don't know about sending you a picture seeing as those are hard to get these days...okay so my joke isnt as funny as I thought ;) I'm glad to see that you had a wonderful week too! My week regardless of what happened is always somehow a really good week...trying and challenging, but compeletly worth it!

We had a halloween party with our english conversation group and ward members (definition of ward is a group of members that live within certain boundaries. The boundary lines change as more people join a ward). They don't really celebrate Halloween here in Ukraine, but it was still super fun! ALso, Tuesday night we got a call from the Sisters (the young men serving a mission carry the title of Elder, so MaKade would be known as Elder Claypool. The young women serving missions carry the title of Sister, so if a girl missionary's last name were Johnson, then she would be known as Sister Johnson and her name tag would say that). The Sister missionaries were saying that they broke the key to their apartment and didn't know what to do. So about 20 minutes later, we were giving them our keys to use our apartment and we headed over to the other Elders apartment in our district. We learned you should always have your apartment clean. Never a dull moment here ;)

Keep working hard. We do so many things as members and missionaries today that onlly bring fruit tomorrow, but the fruit does come. I promise and testify it does.

I have been reading in Mosiah and Alma ( these are two sections in the Book of Mormon. Just like in the New Testament of the Bible you would have sections like Matthew and Mark, who were apostles of Jesus Christ in Israel, and there would be chapters and verses in those sections. Mosiah was a prophet that lived a few thousand years ago on the American continent. Alma was another prophet that lived after Mosiah). Lately I am seeing the incredible example of the People of Alma and their determination to serve the Lord regardless of their trials. They were beaten, laid upon with burdens, even smitten by their own people, but not once did they turn from their strength. The scriptures say that their burdens were made easier not because they were taken away, but because they were strengthened to bear them. Use the Arm of the Lord, which is always extended, to lean on. He wants to help you and is there to help you. If we have the patience to wait on the Lord, He has promised we would not be left wanting.

Here in this part of the Lord's vineyard, we are pushing forward ( vineyard is a term, not a real vineyard. In the scriptures the Lord often uses stories to describe things like a vineyard ). Yes, at times I feel like the "patience, the fruits will come stage" is never going to end, but I know his hand is in the Work. We are not trying to find just anyone either, we are trying to find those who are ready to receive us. Again, it takes faith to trust that there are people, but everytime I truly have the spirit with me, I cannot deny that there are people there who want to learn and grow closer tonthe Savior. So, how do we stay the storm when the storm rages and threatens to destroy? What has worked for me is keeping eternal perspective, remembering my relationship with my Father in Heaven, coming to Christ through the scriptures which I enjoy the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and then always giving thanks to God.

I love you all so much! He knows you and is in your lives. Just look for Him.

Elder Claypool

PS. If you send me a letter then just know that I just received a letter last week that was dated Oct 3. The mail may be getting a little slow, and I don't always write back right away, but just know that if you send me a letter I will write back (even if it takes a month ;)

Challenge: you shoud Finish the Book of Mormon before the End of the Year and reap the blessings of salvation!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Hello Family!!!
I am sitting in the laundry place writing you and I’m soaking wet because I lost my umbrella and it is pouring here! It should start snowing soon though. This last week was kind of illustrated by ‘today’s weather’ with me being impatient, soaking wet (more like beaten down spiritually), and not in the best mood. Nevertheless, there have been many things this last week that have made me stop, stand still, and see the hand of the Lord in my life.
I don’t know if I told you already, but, on average 80% of members are less active here in my current area. In our branch {branch is a word used to describe a congregation of members} we have 360 baptized members and about 80 that come every Sunday. They need our help and are so special in the eyes of Heavenly Father. This week, in fact, one of our less active members in our area came to our apartment and looked for a remote control (he is also our landlord). Continuing the story…he was at our apartment for about 4 hours looking, and in between him taking a break, we were able to share with him a wonderful spiritual thought where we explained the importance of church...and the miracle was that his home teachers had taught the exact same thing the day before. Sunday… he came to church realizing the Lord was talking to him! It is incredible to see the tiny moments that make life and the mission worth everything.
Within our district {district is a word to explain a few sets of missionaries in a nearby area} is another tender mercy that I was able to see this week. It was a rough week for me and it turns out that our whole district is having a rough time too. The Elders and sisters are going through similar things with various twists (frustrations that more people are not willing to listen), but there is no doubt in our mind that (1) President Campero is an inspird man {he is the mission president living in Ukraine for three years and is from Bolivia} and that Heavenly Father knew we all needed to be together in the same mission, and (2) the adversary is working hard on us. Here in our mission there is a lot of things that look like the time has almost come (signs that the 2ndComing is close), and we feel like it is the deep breath before this work explodes here...and Satan is doing everything he can to stop us. But, we will not stop. We are rejected on almost every hand. Many times a day I hear the same things that the people “don’t have time” and “your message isn’t needed”, and that they already “have enough” of God. We know otherwise. Like all trials too, the scriptures are a place I have gained my strength. I have been memorizing scriptures lately in Russian, and I remember one morning contacting and being shut down and the scripture in Isaiah 53:3-5 having new meaning for me: "He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from him. He was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he has bourne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But (and this is the where patience and diligence kicks in) he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes, we are healed." He was rejected and still did the work of the Father. This is my calling to do the same.
This Sunday we also had an incredible experience singing as a district. We finished all of our church meetings (which I’m starting to understand the language now, ha ha) and then we went back on the streets to find people to teach. We have a very musically gifted district and often sing on the busses and whenever we are together. That Sunday we were singing on a busy street corner and contacting at the same time. We were able to receive 7 contacts between the lot of us and had an incredible time. The Lord is in the Work!
Even really late last night we were headed home and about 30 minutes from our apartment, it was obviously dark, and also raining (and really late, smile) and as we were late and couldn’t find where a street was and as we huddled under one umbrella and tried to find the street….never thinking that it was a prompting from the Lord…. we just thought to go look at a building next to us to see which building it was, and to our astonishment, we were able to see it was not only the right street, but also the right apartment complex. Little tender mercies like that are the ones that make you look heaven ward, and with a sweet, sweet feeling, aside from all other trials, thank the Lord for his tender mercies. Truly His Hands are in the Work.
The work is challenging, but not impossible. The road seems long, but never unbearable. And all the while I have my Savior at my side (and my missionary companion), and the Book of Mormon and Bible as a guide. No unhallowed hand may stop this work, and only hallowed hands may do it, for His kind pierced hands are also in the work.
I love you all so much and pray for you. Pray for us. Pray for these people in Ukraine. They need this Gospel and the peace it brings, unadulterated and eternal, that comes from knowing our Savior Jesus Christ.
With Love, Determination, and the Enabling Power of the Savior as My Strength,
Elder Claypool

Monday, October 29, 2012



I too had a really cool experience this last week that has to do with following the Spirit. So this last week, we had an incredible zone conference with President Campero who is one of my favorite people in the whole world (and I hope you felt his amazingness though his letter to you) In our interview we talked about my companion and he actually is thinking that he'll let Elder Harvey and I stay together for the last 4 weeks of his mission too! So, our zone conference got us all pumped up to do missionary work, and we actually got a lot of contacts on the bus even! Like Samuel Jones, our missionaries are becoming so fearless, we're trying really hard just to go to everyone everywhere even standing up on a bus and talking pretty loud. ;) SO this one night I was feeling pretty bad because my own desires were swelling in me and my pride too. I didn't feel like we were being led by the Spirit, and to make things worse, we really weren't seeing any success in people even wanting to talk with us. But we managed to get a contact and then headed to an apartment complex to go tracting. Without really thinking that it was an impression, we decided to go into this dorm right after we had walked passed it. We rode the lift to the top floor as usual but as soon as we got off, we realized that there was 3 people on the floor below and because of the openness of the stairwells, they of course would hear about a little awkward... ;) so we sat there, not sure what to do, but then I thought, well, lets just walk pass them. So we did. Down the stairs we went, passed the two ladies and one guy. However, before we could pass them, they stopped us, asked who we were and then promptly informed us that they had just returned from a cemetery since their family member had died 4 days earlier. "Where is Victor?" they asked, and then, in one of the most powerful experiences ever in my mission, we stood there on a random stairwell at 8 pm and testified of the Plan of Salvation, that they would see them again and that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we would be able to live for eternity with our families - together forever. We, like Alma and Amulek to the Zoramites, took turns explaining key gospel principles, testifying powerfully, and supporting one another. We spoke of the Book...the Book of Mormon, the Book that we have from Almighty God given to us to restore those plain and precious truths that we lost in the mistranslations of the Bible. His truth in fulness is restored to the Earth. There has not been a time in my mission that I felt more like I was fulfilling my purpose as a missionary bring the good news to those who need it and helping them come unto Christ. The crazy thing, after we answered their questions and talked for over 30 minutes, they refused to meet with us because they had their own church (slam head on ;) ) But you know what, that night, we, despite our feelings of lack of guidance, tried our best, fulfilled our purpose, and ultimately did everything we could and were able to be completely comfortable with the result. Yeah, it was frustrating. Incredibly. But here now we have 3 people from three different families who all know and now can take the message to their families...and they have our number ;)

This work is true. I love you all so much, and know that life is just a matter of Choosing the Savior and then following that Spirit that whispers so quietly to do what is best for us.

His hand is in our Lives!

Elder Claypool

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Family!!!! (Well...and everyone else ;)

That's so amazing to hear how good life is going! The twins are practically going to be pros by the time that I return! not to mention that they'll be in crazy good shape too...I'm still trying to get there ;) And I'm super excited to hear your dedication in going to the temple even in the Tri-cities. There are plenty of excuses in the world, but not enough people that just say to an excuse "So?" and then get the task done. :) And I would absolutely love to see some pictures and will send some next week probably.

For this week...

For all of you in the states, I hope that you have the opportunity to watch conference last week, because I finally got to see it and it was incredible! Do you realize just what a blessing it is to have a prophet and apostles on the earth today? That they can speak the mind and will of God today? And that as an individual you can receive personal revelation from them today? We were able to watch conference as a zone here in Donetsk and essentially watch two sessions Saturday and three back to back on Sunday with a pretty tasty potluck in between. Aside from the fun atmosphere and food though, there was a spirit unlike any that can be replicated. General conference is an incredible opportunity twice a year that we have to receive the will of God for our time, strength, and comfort from 15 men who are called and set apart to a calling just above missionary service to be a special witness of Jesus Christ. While watching, I was able to gain very specific revelation for myself and for the work here and how grateful I am for it! When President Thomas S Monson spoke, I received reaffirming witness from the Spirit that he is the Prophet of God. The call to serve is extended to all and I would hope with all of my heart that an individual would not put off receiving the greatest blessings a man could ever receive in the work of the Lord for simple blessings that they may deem more important. Serving a mission is a once in an eternity experience that should become our lives.

This last week was a wonderful week trying to continue the work forward and learning, but one specific experience was especially significant, so I will share that (and I don't have time to say anything else after it ;) We have an investigator named Oleg who we had found morning contacting my first transfer here at a bus stop on Petrovsky road, gave him a Book of Mormon, and received his contact. When we first contacted him he said "call back in two weeks"...this is never a very good sign and happens all too often. However, when we called back, he said he could meet, and soon after that, we were meeting and teaching this incredible man. He loves the Book of Mormon, knows the Bible like a scholar, and loves the Liahona. After meeting for a while and talking about the Gospel, he decided to quit smoking. Just like that. He still going strong. He understands that the Book of Mormon is true and recognizes Satan's influence in trying to keep him from meeting with us even! To say the least, he is just an amazingly prepared guy who we really don't do much to help. This is the Lord's work and He is involved. Anyways, this week of course, we wanted him to attend General Conference even though his work schedule was crazy. He usually works 3 days and has one day off but the schedule is always changing so he doesn't ever know. He'd never been to church because of work, but we found out that this week he had Saturday and maybe even Sunday off! So we set up to go with him to General Conference, (hopefully with a member since we wanted to watch in English in a different room) and then after that there was even going to be a baptism in the same building. What an incredible way to get him started! Meet members, hear directly from the Prophet, and see a baptism to help him become more assured of his growing testimony...well there's always a wrench that gets thrown in ;) We found out that all of our members, who we'd like him to meet, were going to be in our area of Petrovsky at our building, whereas we were planning on going to Center Donetsk to see it in English. After hours of making phone calls and stressing over the situation we had done all we could and we still couldn't figure it out. Oleg was looking like he was going to have to go by himself to our branch building and we would be 40 minutes away. Even though in my mind it didn't make sense, there wasn't a way this was going to work, etc, in my heart, I knew every thing would be okay. So, the next morning, we met him at the church, gave him a quick message about prophets to prep him, lent him some church clothes, and left the ball in his court. There was nothing more we could do than leave it up to the Lord. And I am pleased to reaffirm that the Lord took care of it. We called him during the day later to find out that he had not only gone completely alone, but he had loved it, met the members, and took notes! He talked about the members that he met and their kind nature, and the special messages that he liked. And though he wasn't able to go Sunday, we as missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ, were able to see how Christ himself, the Master and Missionary, is in the work.

I have such a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. This gospel is so much more than simply knowing though, it is becoming. First we must know, then we choose to do (and the word choose is critical in this equation for conversion) and then, we become. The Savior is our friend, He wants us to succeed and does all that He can to help us. We just need to choose to humble ourselves and stop being like the old babushka (old grandma...hey its just what they call them selves ;) ) here who, even when she had fallen to the ground, cut her face up and was bleeding profusely, would not accept our help. "I can do it, I don't need your help," she said, and all we could do then, was sadly keep walking. One of the biggest issues here in Ukraine is that the circumstance of how they are raised teaches them to depend only on one person: themselves. This of course cannot work because when our faith is only in ourselves, we end up like the old babushka who with bloodstained hands and face says, I can do it, I can overcome it. We cannot do it with out complete reliance and submission to our Savior. And you know the best part? There is no more beneficial choice or option either. In fact, choosing the Savior is the most eternally important and the choice with the greatest return that we can ever make. Choose the Savior.

I hope that you all have some very specific ways in which you're applying conference! Pick a few things, set some goals and pray about them. You cant do it all at once anyways! But you can do a few things here and there to apply what the spirit whispered to your heart. Read the conference talks as President Monson suggested, and receive the blessings of having a modern day prophet on the earth today. I know he is a prophet. I also found these sights that are super good if you are wanting to learn more of prophets and want a good Spiritual boost:

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your love too!

Elder Claypool :)

Monday, October 15, 2012


Hello everyone,
Well, I think you might just have to light a fire under one at a time in the future because holy cow I was blessed with letters today! So you'll have to forgive me if this one is a little short ;) Its so amazing to see that the family is doing so well and just how incredible it is to hear from all of them. To hear of your example is always strengthening to me too. Sometimes in life we think that we need to be recognizable and prominent to make a difference, but to me, some of the biggest heroes throughout history are the ones who just do what they're supposed to because the Lord said so. People like Abbish from the book of Mormon who helped to convert so many Lamanites by simple sharing what she knew, or the dedicated deacons quorum advisor who loves his boys enough to pray for them individually by name, or the parents who do all they can with all the tears and joy to raise a son or daughter up to the potential the Lord sees in them. (OH and by the way, you don't fit into any of those categories because you're definitely at the top of my list in prominence :) So, without further ado (and yes I bought my winter stuff, hence why the larger withdrawal from by credit card...we can talk about the costs later ;), here is the highlights from this last week:

First off and foremost,

For anyone who is reading this letter, I hope that you're catching the drift of what the Brethren are getting at: SERVE A MISSION!! If your 18 and a young man, 19, and a young woman, or an elder couple who can serve, please do so. There is no more compelling or more important work than this. If you have doubts, read the scriptures, pray, and be humble enough to receive and answer from Heavenly Father as to whether or not a full-time mission is the plan for you. If not the full-time (and I speak now to only young women and elderly -- young men, you know the call is already there), then please consider how best you can be a missionary for life in the sphere and the circumstances that the Lord has blessed you with. The field is white already to harvest right around you. Remember that you are all on missions serving in the mission to which you were all called: Mortality. With the Gospel at your side and the desire to serve God, not only will you come unto Christ, but you will help others also, for all a missionary is, is one who loves God enough to let the light of Christ shine through them to invite others and themselves to come unto Him.

Continuing... ;)

This week was actually incredibly difficult but incredible rewarding. It's pretty frustrating at times when your weaknesses, shortcomings, and seemingly 'lack of success' begins to pile up. But, how grateful I am for it! There were times this week where we lost one of our most promising investigators, were dogged by some of our others, and ignored by others. There were days where no one wanted to talk with us, and I really hit a wall. I found myself this week really coming to terms with myself, what kind of missionary I was going to be, and the choices I was going to make. Deep down inside, we all want to be like Nephi, but unfortunately innately are more like Laman and Lemuel ;) We murmur in our heart of hearts and often view the burdens of life without deciding how to solve them and deciding to be grateful. If there is one thing that the Lord keeps teaching me here on the mission is that we always have the power of choice. I love a quote by a man named James Allen in a book called "As a Man Thinketh:" -"Man is only subject to his circumstances until he realizes that he is master over them." Heavenly Father has given us all the abilities and powers to be agents of ourselves, and gave us the best example and the most encouragement he could to help us choose this true way to happiness, even Jesus Christ. Many people don't understand this and even today I'm still working on this, but we all have a choice. Here are a few things this week that helped me make the choice to go against the natural man and chose the Savior:

1. The Sacrament-This last week, I was able to partake of the sacrament and truly feel the cleansing power of the Atonement. With a fast on top of it and a prayer in my heart, I was able to be strengthened and come closer to my Savior.

2. Service- To love and serve others is something that cannot be left out of our lives. When we see others for who they can be and not for who they simply are now, we can truly love as the Lord loves

3. Prayer- Really pray to the Father! You have the opportunity to pray to the greatest most loving being in the Universe and He will hear you!

4. Simply Choosing to do what you know is right-kick when you don't want to kick, love when you don't want to love, and do everything you can to defy the natural self that says you cant.

I don't have very much time today to write, but know that I am absolutely certain that the Lord is on our side. The Question of Life is, Will you choose to be on His.

I love you all so much and will promise pictures and stories next week.

Elder Claypool

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Helping each other to improve and progress towards Christ

Hi Family,
For a second when I saw what time you sent this and it said 7:39am, I thought that you were up at 1:39 am thinking that you were only 6 hours behind. When I realized that you are actually 10 hours behind, I felt a little better ;) That sounds like an incredible week! In being able to hear your stories and experiences with your calling has been an incredible strength to me here in Ukraine and I benefit greatly from it. It's all good with the mini preach my Gospels, I have a big one and the doctrine is the same so feel free to take your time! I don't want you to feel any more rushed than you already are ;) I have not yet bought my winter gear but will soon. Its still pretty fall-like here and not too bad...yet, but I'll be sure to get on that soon.

It sounds like the twins and korm are doing absolutely wonderful! The twins are going crazy with soccer and Korm with pretty much everything else! What a stud! You'll have to send me some pictures from their evening of romance so I can see how handsome he was. Tell the twins congrats on their wins and success and tell them to score a goal for me next time ;) Also, give the Molina's a hug for me. I haven't seen them in forever, but would want them to know how much I love them!

This week...

You know, I always get to this part and seem to hit a blank just trying to think of what to say. In every week there are so many experiences that make the week, but I just have a hard time expressing them. So, here goes... ;)

First and foremost, our companionship

There are fewer things that are more rewarding in this life than the relationships that we have with others in trying to help each other improve and progress towards Christ...there are also fewer things in life that cause greater stress within our hearts as well. Elder Harvey and I were able to have some pretty good heart-to-hearts these last few days talking about our lives, our missions, and life to come. When I first met my companion, I thought to myself "Oh, so president put me with a trunky(anxious to finish his mission) missionary to balance him out and help him to be better," not a very teachable attitude or humble one either for that matter. However, I have come to realize and am grateful for Elder Harvey's innate ability to help me to see my weakness only because of how I treat him. With my companion I am able to work on patience, true love, lack of judgement, and being a true friend (as he too has to be patient, etc with me ;) We have been able to grow closer together and really start to be there for one another. To see him change though, - to see him go from a way of behavior to a more noble, higher behavior, literally brings more joy to my heart than anything I have ever felt. It's not because of me in the least, and if it was all credit goes to Heavenly Father giving me the strength to do what I have, but he is beginning to really change. As am I.
In reading an article given to me by Elder Samuelson and with my experiences here in Ukraine, I have been able to learn that there are two kinds of successful missionaries: 1. Those who do all they are supposed to and even are successful, worthy, etc, but do it only out of duty and wanting deep down inside to do their own will. This missionary begrudgingly does what he is supposed to and as a result, like Moroni says in chapter 7 of his book, "it," meaning that which he gave begrudgingly, "profits him nothing." This was a crazy thought to think that just because I did something that I was supposed to didn't mean that I would receive the fullest blessings I could. Or 2. Those who also do all they are supposed to and even are successful, worthy, etc, and give their whole heart to the will of the Lord. Desires, works, will, and hopes are swallowed up in the surrendering of our lives to Him so that He can make of us what we could only dream to become. He, the grand master has everything in the world except one thing: our will. We cant be coerced to give or submit our heart because we have our agency, but we can however choose to give it to Him. Now, at first when I read this, I thought, "oh man, I definitely have not let my desires be swallowed up in His will as I should...I wake up and really have a hard time wanting to contact....when people are rude and I'm tired, I just want to go home and eat...etc." But you know, this isn't a bad thing to have your own desires, in fact, it is an opposition to give you greater opportunity to choose the Lord. When the Savior was performing that which His Father asked of Him, namely the Atonement of mankind, He said these words:

"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."

Even though He wished it to be otherwise, He still did the will of the Father whole-heartedly, knowing that it was for a better cause. This is what we all work towards I guess: Giving ourselves, or rather losing ourselves, in the will of the Lord. All we have to do it make the decision today. Amazingly simple right?!

As for our investigators and the work here...

Things are going well here in the Petrovsky area of Donetsk and honestly it is incredible here. Difficult, and yes we do often have days where key indicators look more like some binary code, but we're not giving up! We have had some pretty incredible lessons with some less actives this last week too! Did you know that 80% of the members here are less active or inactive (Baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that do not attend church regularly or do not follow the guidelines and standards of the Church)? That just makes me so sad and sick to even think about this. We have been visiting with a sweet babushka named Anna who just...doesn't want anything to do with the church. With her we have been very straight forward and loving at the same time. There is a serious power in helping people remember the Savior and the covenants they have made and then in His name inviting them to him and promising blessings. There was a time that I can remember just sitting in here apartment looking at her and just seeing her thinking - remembering her baptismal day and just how beautiful it was. If there are any less actives you can bring back, please do. Christ says that as converted disciples of Him we need to feed his lambs (investigators) and feed his sheep (less actives)

With our other investigators, we are searching for more, and working with them as often as we can. We are even trying this new tactic where an eternal investigator meets with us and has companionship study, and then we teach his friend who he referred to us as if he was a member on the lesson (since he knows everything). We're hoping that will help them both progress. Roman, the 20yr, is really close and is praying about a baptismal date the 20th of October, and Oleg, our newest investigator is soon to be committed to a date. Ira, is still struggling to find a way to get to church, and that pretty much sums up our investigators. We really are blessed to have such a wonderful teaching pool, but we need to be escalator missionaries, and find many to teach.

This work is so true and so incredibly amazing! The Spirit is so strongly aiding us in all that we do as we are worthy of it. There's a lot to be done here and the literal gather of Israel is happening. Please know that from a person that is in the very place where the majority of Israel dwell. They're here, and they are prepared. They need our prayers. If you have a chance, read Preach My Gospel under the last few chapters about finding and helping people keep commitments. Not only will this help you all be the best member missionaries you can be, but it will help you realize how to best help yourself come to Christ.

Oh and I'm starting a reading program where hopefully I will finish the Book of Mormon by Dec 31 (3ish chapters a day) and then the rest of the Standard works (New Testament, Old Testament, Doctrine and Covenants) by Dec 31 2013. (6 pages a day)

I love you all so much and am so thankful for all that you do to help me and support me. I was thinking about the sacrifices you make for me and your prayers, and my heart just swells in gratitude for you. I love you all so much. This is the time to let your light shine!

Elder Claypool

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Best Birthday Present to Mom! Poem written by Elder Claypool

The Mark of a Missionary Mom


As I sit with tag on chest,

Wondering what makes my life the best,

I think of my friends and family in all,

And in my thoughts, my mom stands tall.


I thought to myself, “What makes a mom,

To raise a missionary big and strong?”

And so with great pleasure, I present to you all

“The Mark of a Missionary Mom standing tall”.


Of course the first trait that I must address,

That makes a mom the missionary’s best,

Is her keen sense of prayer with all her heart

As she pleads to the Lord to do her part,

Day in and day out, the missionary feels

Her strength and faith from all her appeals.

And when day is through and desires are short,

The missionary knows he’s in her heart.


Secondly, as one would seemingly guess

A missionary mom is inspired at her best.

In letters and emails he surely can feel

How the Spirit speaks with such zeal.

Her words though simple (as she would think)

Are truly life changing when hearts do sink.

And so with relish he looks forward when

He can read her words and be uplifted again.


Of course, moms are teachers!  That title is earned

Because from day 1 many lessons are learned.

She sure hopes he cleans, makes his bed and bathes,

And eats quite nutritious doing all that she says.

Though he may not clean as often as he should,

Or eats as healthy as mom’s cooking could.

He does remember those lessons in fine,

And loves and reveres his teacher sublime.


But what you ask is the trait above the rest,

The trait that creates a missionary mom best,

It is love pure and simple in all that she does

Because the missionary knowing this will be the best there ever was

Having felt her love he will give love again,

Healing in a country where only love can.

But most of all this love will forward

Her missionary son to Christ the Lord.


So just in case you were wondering how

I came up with the traits to which missionaries bow,

Why, it was you!  My mother, who’s helped me so,

To become and progress on earth below.

So know that I love you and try to emulate

And be like your wonderful chocolate cake,

But really all joking put aside,

I love my mom



Down inside!



Happy Birthday Mom!

Sept. 2012

From "marshuteka" to Zone Conference

Hey Mom! (and I guess anyone else who reads this letter ;) --- I wrote dad separately since he is in Asia.

I think you and dad are so funny because I try to give you credit for raising me to be who I am and helping me to become who I am I have first-hand experience seeing what lack of good parenting can do... and yet you both try to deny it! I guess I didn't learn the humility trait from you both...smiley face. ... It sounds like you are more busy than I am! I cannot believe how incredible you are growing with all your duties, and everyone else too. Though I can't really put my finger specifically on certain things, I know that Heavenly Father is blessing us for the little we do in comparison to what He does for us.

MaKormick is going to the high school homecoming dance? With whom might I ask? I can't believe I wasn't sent a list of girls to choose from before he asked her? Ha ha...And yes mom, I would definitely agree with you that he should go classy with the gray shirt and pink tie...unless he had a pink shirt, charcoal tie and vest...that would be classy ;) It sounds like you are having a great time with the twins! Give them big hugs for me and let them know that I show people in Ukraine their pictures all the time (along with the rest of the family) and actually shared the photos with a random guy on the bus yesterday. The busses here are super crowed and I hardly ever have a seat to sit in. It's really cool that here Ukranian men typically give their seats up to ladies if there are no open seats. As missionaries, we definitely follow their example. On a little "marshuteka" as they are called, which is a little bigger than a twelve passenger van with a higher ceiling and more seats. These things hold upwards of 30+ people on them! Imagine all the people at your dinner {MaKade is referring to a dinner Kim just had this past weekend at our house where the twins had 30 people from their soccer team over} on one marshuteka. Sometimes a bus pulls up and we look and see that there is literally no room.........but we somehow manage to squeeze in (there are no such things as personal bubbles here) and at every stop we literally fall out the door every time they open the door, squeeze back in, and wait for the door to close in order to make it to the next stop ;) What fun!

For this week, things here feel slow. The days go by fast (I cannot believe that I am already almost done with my first transfer) but I don't yet have the sense of urgency that I need. I really do want to work until I drop and then keep on working, but my will and desires aren't quite on the same frequency. We're getting there though. I made a ton of long-term goals; more like a "to-be" list rather than a "to-do" list, that I want to become on my mission and in life. I pulled from my patriarchal blessing {like in the Biblical times, the LDS church has a patriarch in each region. A patriarchal blessing is given by a patriarch. It is similar to a prayer but given just once to worthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is a sacred and personal blessing from the Lord. It provides information such as declaring a person's lineage, meaning which tribe of Isael he/she belongs to, and it gives insight and counsel for and about the person's life. It may include promises of blessings if he/she remains worthy, as well as warnings about temptations or weaknesses, or counsel how the person should live} my missionary blessing, and my call from President Monson {he is the current prophet and president of the church and sent MaKade the letter calling him to serve a mission in the Ukraine}. Unless we have a vision of where we want to go in life we become as Lehi {this is a name of a prophet who lived in Jerusalem about the same time as the Old Testament Jeremiah in 600 BC} speaks of in 2 Nephi chapter 2: 'we are only acted upon instead of acting'. When we compliment a vision by making sure we add goals and set out to accomplish them, rather than just wishful thinking, we will truly progress and become someone who acts and who is not just acted upon. I love a quote by Elder Ballard {he is currently one of the Twelve Apostles in the church} in "Preach My Gospel" {this is a teaching manual that missionaries use} where he says that in regards to setting goals, " if we do not set goals and learn to master the ability to set goals and accomplish them, then we will reach the end of our life only to realize we had become only a small portion of our full-potential" . In D&C 88 {D&C is an abbreviation for a book of scripture called Doctrine & Covenants} we read these pretty poinant verses:

"...nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift." (vv32-36)

We have been given the incredible gift to be agents for ourselves and act if we so choose. To think that we are only created to be acted upon is to deny the very purpose of our existence and the love of God. Even when we are seamlessly buffetted by the circumstances that surround us, remember this wonderful advice first from Elder Oaks {he is currently serving as one of the Twelve Apostles of the church} and then from James Allen, an English writer

1. Agency is the right to choose our own will and Freedom is the ability to carry it out. We all have our agency and even if we don't have the freedom, we still have the right given by God to choose.
2. "Man is only subject to his circumstances until he realizes that he is master over them."

In our recent Zone Conference {this is a meeting that groups or districts of missionaries go to every few months} with Elder Clark of the Seventy {this is a term used for the quorum of priesthood members that is below the 12 Apostles}, Sister Campero {she is the Donetsk Ukraine mission president's wife and the Campero's are from Bolivia serving in Ukraine} talked about how in the place where she grew up, there was a bird who would land on a house or building, and say one of two things: 'buente fue" or 'mal-mal" (forgive me if my attempt at her Bolivian dialect is incorrect ;) When one heard 'buente fue' it was a good day, and 'mal-mal' it was a bad day. We have in us the ability and power to make every day a 'buente-fue' day. It all comes down to what we choose. We learned lots yesterday in the Zone Conference and were edified by the Good word of God from one of His chosen servants who holds the same title as we do as missionaries. We spoke of many things that inspired, and also cut its way to our hearts because of one thing: The Spirit. When we have the Spirit with us, we are admonished, reproved and blessed for that which we do and do not do. Don't forget that the Atonement was given to us to be justified and sanctified. The Spirit is the one who carries those gifts and blessings to us. HE is our functional tool in which we apply and accept the Atonement into our lives and become changed. But we must first act.

This week was pretty difficult and full of learning experiences, but I'm ready to face them for my Father, my Savior, for these people, and for all of you. I love you all so much and have been blessed with the best family in the world. My whole family and friends. Help others feel the Love of Heavenly Father for them. No one doesn't want to be loved. Not one person. When we are truly becoming as Christ we can look at anyone no matter who or what they have done or become, and see within them the divine potential to change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. To think otherwise is to deny the very power that supports you in your everyday life. Plus, how much better does it feel to love? Thank you for being such an incredible example to me of Christ-like love and charity.

Sorry if my pronouns are a little confusing since I switch to being specific with my 'yous' talking to you and also very general with them. It'd be easier in Russian to understand me. ;)

Give everyone a hug from me and let them all know that I love them, and have a firm resolve that this life is for us to choose. Take advantage of that and 'choose eternal life' (2 Nephi 2:28)

Love you all!
Elder MaKade C Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Upon the Rock of our Redeemer

Hi Family,
I hope that the pictures give you a bit of something to think about when you think of me! This last week was really hard because we had a lot of people who we were super hopeful with cancel meetings. There was a day where we had 0 contacts in the morning, and all 4 of our investigator lessons in one day canceled on us, - back to back in a period of about 10 minutes. I realized that the Lord, as always, is trying to teach me a lesson: My hope was placed in the investigators that gave me hope, not him who is the founder of all hope. I think Helaman 5:12 puts it well:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

We cannot fail if we are built upon this great Savior who gives us every reason to love, serve, and trust in Him. He is our Savior and I am honored to represent him. I struggle daily to do as he does, but I can testify that he is helping me to be as he is. Of course the journey ahead is long, but not only am I more and more willing every day to walk it, but he has already committed to walk it with us again, seeing as he has already walked it before. He promises that to each one of us. How grateful I am for that!

 I love you all so much and am so proud of you!

С любовью!
Старейшина Клэйпул

Sunday, September 16, 2012


September 10, 2012

Hello everyone,

Thanks for your letters. Sounds like you are doing just as much work as I am here in the mission field! I’m so glad that your calling is going so wonderful and I have no doubt that they called the right person! {Definition: a “calling” is a responsibility or duty that a church member is given.  All of the duties in the church are callings. A person might be called to be a primary teacher, or a chorister, or a bishop.   Accepting a calling voluntary and the person is not paid.  Each congregation in the church is called a “ward”.  A ward is made up of church members that live in a defined area.  The area boundaries change as wards become bigger and more wards are formed and more chapels are built for the members.  MaKade’s mom received the calling to be the Relief Society President in our ward, so MaKade was replying back to his mom regarding experiences she had shared to him in her letter about her calling. For information about what is Relief Society please see  or   }

It is truly amazing to be doing missionary work, isn’t it? One thing which frustrates me though is how long I've gone not realizing missionary work is not “just for missionaries”.  Really, if a missionary's purpose is to invite all to come unto Christ and partake of the Atonement through the Restored Gospel, isn’t that what we are all supposed to be doing on a day to day basis? We are all trying to come unto Christ and help others do the same.  Less actives members, active members, investigators {definition: a term church members use for people earnestly wanting to learn about the church and missionaries are teaching those people/“investigators”}, neighbors,  etc....we're all trying to do the same thing (God’s purpose found in the scriptures in Moses 1:39) to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,  This is His work and Glory so mankind can have eternal life.  It is to do missionary work. So many members think that missionary work is separated from the other parts of the church like the young men’s group, young women’s group, primary, etc. .. but I say NOPE! Even though full-time missionary work has its own department, the function of the church and all members on the earth is to be a missionary. This is implied in our baptismal covenant when we take His name and will upon us, and we covenant to serve Him and do His will. And, what is more important to note is that a sign of true conversion to the gospel is “desiring to share it” as Lehi did when he partook of the fruit {Lehi was a prophet that lived in Jerusalem approximately 600 BC and his family left Israel and came to the Americas.  Their record, or journals, were handed down each generation and compiled into one summary record around 400 AD by a prophet named Mormon.  This 1,000 year record is today known as the Book of Mormon and members recognize The Bible and Book of Mormon as holy scripture testifying of Jesus Christ.  The Bible is a record from the Middle East region and the Boom of Mormon is from the Americas}   

This doesn’t mean we need to dress up in our Sunday best and hand out pass-a-long cards {a pass-along card is pieces of literature that share things about the church}, but we do need to be the everyday representatives of Christ who stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death," (Mosiah 18:9), "but be thou an example of the believers" (1 Timothy 4:12), and let our light shine before men.




"Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed." (3 Nephi 18:24)

If we can just help members understand their great calling - and I know most do a wonderful job - then we will not only see many people come unto Christ, but we will also be much happier in our lives. I can testify of that.

I cannot believe that school has started already and that everyone is back to normal life! And, if it didn’t take too long by airmail, I would definitely ask you to send me one of those delicious peach pies you made mom J   Actually, the food here is really good when we are able to eat at a member's home.  But, most of the time we either make these ravioli type things filled with mashed potatoes or pasta and chicken.  I would encourage MaKormick to learn how to cook a variety of things.   In fact, I went on splits {“splits” is a word missionaries use when one missionary goes out and works with a different missionary for a few hours, or with a member, that is not their assigned companion}  this week with our district leader, Elder Russo, and we made Mexican burritos with rice, chicken, beans, potatoes (that part was a little weird) and the closest things we could find to tortillas in any of the stores was called lavash.  By the way, lavash goes bad super quick.  When you buy it, you better eat it that same day.  Who would have thought I'd eat more Mexican food in Ukraine than Ukrainian food?!  Ha, ha.

This last week was absolutely wonderful...and really difficult at the same time. Because we had lots meetings, we weren’t able to do much proselyting (definition: traveling around the area talking to people about the gospel.  Another word used more frequently in the church is “tracting” which is essentially when missionaries are out knocking on people’s doors asking if the missionary can come in to share a message}.  But, we did do work in many other ways.  I was having a difficult time because I felt like we were wasting time in meetings instead of being out working with the time that the Lord had given us...but thankfully, the Lord is teaching me otherwise. We spent time with the members this week on lessons (which is still questionable whether we go for the food or for them, ha, ha), having activities with them, and also a wonderful service activity that pretty much took all day Saturday. **Note to self: you know you're on a mission when... are sore after a service activity simply pulling weeds!                                                                                 ...your pulling weeds-skills from home are actually put to good use                                                                  ... and you eat a lunch picnic after service consisting of juice (very popular here) and a type of hotdog/sausage thing that we really don’t know what it is and we don’t ask

Even though we spent excessive time doing things like that, I was able to get to know the members better, gain their trust, and hopefully strengthen them.

We had many really cool experiences this last week too with new investigators and progressing investigators. Remember Galina? Well, we finally got into her apartment and taught her a lesson. She sat us down and told us essentially that she was not going to read the Book of Mormon just because she didn’t believe it.  Well, shocked and not quite sure what to do, we started to teach her about the Book of Mormon and read scriptures from it. Little by little she became less and less against it until she finally agreed to read the Book of Mormon. When we were reading the verses in 2 Nephi about "a Bible, a Bible, we already have a Bible" verses, I was afraid that we would offend her or that she wouldn’t believe it, but what I came to learn was that truth will cut its own course, and the Book of Mormon is truth. We don’t need to defend or shield the Book of Mormon from other’s attacks because it will fend them off on her own every time.

Another wonderful experience which taught me that the Lord is doing far more work than we are and that most of the true success stories are never the ones that we do much on our own part - meaning, we owe the Lord because He prepares people. We were tracting for former investigators in an area where we hadn’t typically been in and were talking to a guy who was less than friendly. When we finished the conversation with the man, we turned to see a tall man with black hair, skulls all over his jacket, and to us looked under the influence of something. We immediately judged him thinking that he was another Vodka-man that was going to give us some grief...however, we were very wrong. He came up to us and started asking very sincere questions that related to his family, questions about our religion, and what he believed. He wanted to know if we believed that children were important to us and if they could go to church seeing as he had had some negative experiences with pastors and his children before. We of course told him about primary {primary is a term used for the organization in the church for children under 12 years of age} and he was super excited and actually committed himself to go to church! He was there on Sunday for Sacrament and we believe that he had an incredible time {“sacrament” has two meanings in the church--  The first being a general term for the meeting in which the entire congregation assembles together  on Sunday . The second term meaning the actual partaking of bread and water in remembrance of Christ, and renewing baptismal covenants}. The Lord is preparing individuals for us to find, teach, and baptize. We don’t know what will come of this meeting with Вова yet, but I do know that the Lord is involved in His work.

We also were able to teach a few more of our investigators like Roman, who is absolutely golden {“golden” is a term used by members to refer to a person/investigator who is humble, willing to learn, and advancing towards being prepared to be baptized soon and has faith they are doing the right thing}, and Ira who is a sweet optimistic lady who works all day in the Renok (all the tiny shops in a row kind of like a permanent farmers market)  and is just absolutely wonderful. We talked about miracles and prayer and it seemed like she really enjoyed it and has the desire to learn more. We are blessed!

Bit by bit the Lord is teaching me, and helping me to learn lessons that only come by experience. I try to learn and perfect myself, but let me be the first to say that that isn’t possible! I have been able to realize a lot about missionary work, myself, and just life in general. I have been able to have some incredible conversations with Elder Samuelson {he is a missionary that went to the same high school as MaKade and is also serving in Ukraine} for whom I am super grateful.  Elder Samuelson is wonderful. 

I have been able to see how similar the Ukrainians are to the Lamanites and us to the Sons of Mosiah {definition: the Lamanites were one of the major groups of people living in the Americas and much of their history is recorded in the Book of Mormon.  The sons of Mosiah were missionaries that taught among the Lamanites and were from the other major tribe of people called Nephites.  Over the thousand year history, the Lamanites and Nephites contended with each other; living in perpetual war except a few times in peace}. The Sons of Mosiah went to serve the Lamanite people who were ferocious, locked in the traditions of their fathers, and under the curse of God. The Ukrainians, like the Lamanites, are living in the traditions of their fathers where they have been taught to rely only on themselves (a thing that will only bring unhappiness), to forget through using drugs, alcohol, and smoking, and believe that they will amount to nothing but a piece of garbage like all the garbage and stray-dogs that simply litter the streets.  It breaks my heart.  These people are hunched in pain, frozen in unhappiness, and locked in hatred. When riding a bus the other night, I was watching the driver smoke over 5 cigarettes in 15 minutes, looking at every living thing in disdain, and visually hating his life. It made my heart ache even more. Can you imagine someone staying like this for eternity?  Even not being members of the church, how as human beings can we allow that to happen?  We have the gospel of Jesus Christ and can share it with all. We have a light to extinguish and cut through all the darkness that has continued for centuries. I ask that you please share the Gospel with others for surely there are so many around us who cry knowingly or unknowingly for peace and freedom.  They seek happiness.  You have it! Please share it. Share it for them and I can promise you will be blessed.

I love you all so much and cannot wait to hear from you again. I'm doing pretty good with things and need to buy a few things like pants, a warm coat since winter here will get rather cold, and...oh, and I already bought shoes.   I am learning to budget.  I Love you all so much and am so proud to call you my family and friends. Without you...well, let’s just say that we meet people who don’t have family like I do.  I can see the blessings of having a great family versus not having one. Thank you and keep on being incredible.  Read the Book of Mormon and Bible again and again!

Love,   Elder Claypool     Старейшина Клэйпул МаКэйдъ Христоферович