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 

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Okay so...onto the weeks activities!!!!! First off...a mission is not easy! We often think of missions as walking around, happy-smiley moments all the time, and people just fawning at your feet with the perfect stories. Here in Ukraine, our nicest contacts are often intoxicated and we get a lot of "no's" but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!! Almost every lesson with investigators we have either been stood up or canceled, and it requires a lot of patience and faith here in the Lords vineyard. I wouldn't trade it for the world though.

The country is beautiful here now that it has cooled down after some massive rain storms that lasted nearly two days (those were fun days for my poor clothes ;) and the leaves are starting to change too. Yesterday when I was on a mini-split with Elder Samuelson and it was just gorgeous even with the super rundown apartment complexes, garbage all across the streets, but the sun was shining, the people in their own quirky way are beautiful, and you can just feel Heavenly Father's hand resting down on our mission. The time is soon coming to see this area of the world become what its has been prophesied to become. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I guess here are some experiences to show it.

Last Wednesday was the torrential down pour in which we were outside most of the day being soaked until I was able to purchase an umbrella. We hopped on a tram and headed to a Sister in the ward who works at the office and always feeds us pizza every week. We took the wrong tram and found out about20 min too late,had to change trams, jumped on to an auto bus, with literally 150 people on it and no room to even think about breathing, and then had to run through puddles and such till we reached her house. The borscht was wonderful,the pizza good too, but my favorite part was indeed when Elder Harvey was eating a grape and found a huge spider that crawled out of his bunch of grapes...he reacted quited enjoyably to me ;) We thanked her, and ran to catch the right tram back home, and to another members apartment. We were drenched and the Sister, nicknamed Mama Bogmedt, pretty much chewed us out for not wearing jackets. I was embarrased for being late, I was soaking wet, didn't know what she was saying, and just as I sat down, about half of my tie was submerged in what we later learned was an incredible borscht soup. Needless to say, I was pretty humbled :) As they fed us, talked with us,and genuinely cared about us, I just felt this wonderful love for them and their love for me. In broken Russian, I was able to simply say that I didn't know how to put it to words, but that I was so grateful for them. The members here are serious gems.

Secondly was actually being able to teach some pretty amazing lessons. We didn't get to teach Galina due to here not being home, but did get to teach a wonderful sister and her son about sacrifice and were all able to partake of a really sweet spirit. We were able to walk through the baptismal questions with an investigator Roman and found that except for a few things, he really had a testimony and was truly ready after we finished teaching him (We'll see!).We were able to teach a young man named Zenia who was ready to be baptized and accepted everything we taught him, but was leaving for another city the next day, not to be back till December. In all these experiences, it gave me hope, a sense of the love the Lord has for these people,and the power of the Spirit. This work is so true!

We also were able to witness a lot of priesthood blessings this last few days. Two baptisms of Elders Samuelson and Russo,a baby blessing of a wonderful missionary-member in our branch, and of course the confirmations of those that were baptized. The Priesthood does and is currently in full operation here in Ukraine. It is truly the power of God and in the ordinances is the power of God manifest!

Finally, our branch...remember how I was telling you not to have the twins quit piano, well I was greeting people Sunday when Brot Victor grabbed me, mumbled something in Russian and led me to the organ right before sacrament meeting started. I sat down, tried to get the thing open, found out all of it was in German on the stops and such, and then said a quick prayer and started playing. It was for sure a miracle. Fast and testimony meeting was wonderful and I got a sense of just how incredibly amazing the saints are here who have been members on average for less time than me. They are truly and elect group of God. After sacrament, (to keep with this new tradition apparently) Sister Dasha grabbed my arm and pulled be to my next assignment: Ukrainian Primary(class for the children under 12). Luckily, I was finally in a class that was at my language level, (even though I still did not understand a ton...) and it was amazing to see these new--and quite rambunctious-kids who will be the future leaders in a land that needs this message so much. It was absolutely incredible! The Gospel is absolutely from God and contained in His Church on the Earth today!

My Companion and I are getting along much more unified, and are really enjoying one another now. We are different and cant expect to be the same, but we have the same purpose here in Ukraine:Bring all to Christ and each other too. We've spent a lot of time eating what is equivalent to Ukrainian rice, (called gretchka) and actually we have eaten it every night, breakfast, and dinner for about three days since we didn't budget our money very well (goal for next month!). For breakfast, gretchka, milk and a bit of sugar. For lunch, gretchka with some ketchup or other sauce (they have a ton of different sauces here and not much else ;) and for dinner, just the same as lunch maybe with some chicken. So much fun.

I love you all so much and cant wait to share more experiences with you as they come. I love you all!

Elder Claypool

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Aug 27, 2012

Hello Family!!! I’m writing to you on a key board that has both Russian lettering and English, so it’s pretty difficult for the eyes  J.   Oh, and not to mention that there are kids all around me on computers playing video games and of course speaking better Russian than me  J  

So, I'm here in Ukraine! And how fantastic that is! The people are amazing...amazingly crazy….. but I love them!  It’s not too hot here and not too cold, but it is pretty humid.

I really don’t know any other way to describe to you my days other than to just tell you them in order.  I better start with the blessing-filled airplane ride over here J

{Elder Claypool and the other six missionaries traveling with him on 8/21 to Ukraine were given phone cards to call their families while in transit from Denver…a last “good-bye” the church allows missionaries to do that serve outside the USA, which we were blessed to hear his voice, a few experiences, had family prayer on the phone together, and we listened to him speak  for 5 minutes non-stop “all in Russian” sharing his testimony and the story of the young 14 yr-old boy, Joseph Smith, commonly referred to by church members as “The First Vision” which started the process of the restored church.  Of course we couldn’t judge his Russian but we were amazed how it sounded}

 I got off the phone with you all, which I was very grateful for, and was then immediately approached by a man named Kyle in the airport. He started asking me questions about what I was doing, what I believed in etc., and we ended up sitting there and sharing a short message with him. He was a Bible scholar training to become a pastor and was headed to Israel for an internship, so we shared a ton of scriptures with him and vise versa.  Although he was more so trying to tell us very politely that "teaching false truths has eternal consequences and [he] just didn’t want [us] to waste away 2 years that could affect [our] eternity."  But, it was still wonderful to bear my testimony and give out my first preglashenyea (that is my best russian-english I can use for "invitation" to learn more about the church). Then we hopped on our flight to DC, talked to the lady next to us and actually found out that a group of missionaries in our travel party were sitting directly behind two Ukrainians from Kiev who spoke little to no English. With a 7 hour flight to Munich and plenty of missionaries with plenty of mixed new vocabulary, we were able to teach them and even place a Book of Mormon! We helped them in many aspects with translation and such, but it was such a blessing from Heavenly Father to experience a real Ukrainian in a friendly atmosphere before being submersed in it completely J  And before all that, we even were able to talk to a member of the US's Department of Defense in DC and give him a Book of Mormon. Between all of us 12 missionaries on that flight to Ukraine, we were able to talk to over 10 people, placed 4 copies of the Book of Mormon, and many pass-along cards too. What a blessing!  {pass-along cards have brief information about the church and a contact for people to call to get missionaries to come by their home.  More can be learned as }

We finally arrived in beautiful Ukraine. It was kind of funny actually because when we got off the plane, looked around to see the beautiful country, and we see pretty much nothing as it is a very flat country on the eastern side.  President and Sister Campero {there are approximately 340 missions around the world and each mission has a mission president and wife that manage the territory and the approx 140-200 missionaries coming and going in their mission.  MaKade’s mission president couple is from Bolivia} were there to greet us at the airport with a big hug saying "Welcome to the best mission in the world!" as well as the Assistants, Elders Smith and Maronchenko, a native from Russia. We arrived at the mission home, emailed you, then headed to President's Kfarteera (in Russian that means apartment) to eat a wonderful first meal in Ukraine (Bolivian, ha ha).  We then had a meeting where we talked about the mission standards, rules, etc and received all the paperwork, etc, finishing it all up with a very tiring testimony meeting since we were all about to pass out (smile).  Elders Newey, Major, and I headed to the office Elder's apartment for the night to catch up on some much needed sleep. I couldn’t believe I was actually here!

The next day we were able to have our interviews with the President then go contacting! President Campero is an absolutely incredible man who loves us very dearly and we were able to have a wonderful interview. I then left the apartment with the Zone Leaders {some missionaries are assigned duties such as District or Zone leaders} from the area with Sister Helsten and Elder Berger to go contacting for the first time! A lot of people simply said no, but there was one babooshka who was yelling and yelling and yelling at us while the Zone leader spoke, and was pretty angry...or so I thought she was. I asked my most common phrase in English I use these days, "Okay, so what did she say?" and I found out that she was actually giving us a very kind blessing in Russian!  You have to love the culture here! We also got to talk with a wonderful man named Vladimir who was sitting in his car when we went on splits with Brother Yuri  {members of the church are called “brother” or “sister”, followed  by their last name.   “Split” is a word used when one missionary goes with another member and the other missionary goes with another member.  Missionaries are required to be with their companion unless they divide up on ‘splits’}.

Later that day was the moment of truth: Transfer Meeting! {“transfers” are when missionaries get a new companion and might move to a different area within the mission.  Normally a companionship changes every three months, and a missionary will get transferred to a different area/city every 4-6 months}.  We had a wonderful meeting with about 50% of the missionaries in the mission in attendance {because most missions cover large geographic areas you cannot always get them all together for a meeting}.   I was able to bear my testimony to which the President said I was apparently like some other missionary who had just left (smile).  I appreciated the compliment.  I was then paired up with my new companion, after we all stood in a big circle around the room, Elder Harvey. He is a very fun, funny, and light-hearted Elder who has 3 months left on his mission.  We were called to serve together in the Petrovsky area of Donetsk itself!  We packed up our bags, got in a taxi and headed to the kfarteera with Elders Harvey, Russo (our district leader and close friend of Elder Harvey) and Elder Samuelson. Who'd a thought we'd be in a taxi together in the same district, in the same area, in a country half way around the world, swerving in and out of near death experiences synonymous with Ukrainian traffic?! Amazing right!!   {Elder Samuelson is another young man from Spokane that graduated high school with MaKade from Central Valley High}

So after being settled in…the work began...

We wake up at 6:30 in the morning, get dressed and go contacting from 7am-8:30am, come back to have personal study, and companionship study, take an extra hour of study for training, and then personal language study. Then, the rest of the day is sacred proselyting time {proselyting is when missionaries walk around or knock on a door asking if they can share a message}. We have been able to talk to a lot of wonderful people here in Ukraine the last few days --- mostly rejection, or they are too busy, or simply say no thanks, and many have had too much to drink the night before (very common since we've already celebrated two holidays this week) and some are interested in what we have to share --- This area has not traditionally been very successful when it comes to finding people, which is the very first step of being able to fulfill our purpose. So, naturally, my thoughts have been focused on finding. We try to talk to every person we can on the streets and at least say hi to all we pass. They speak really fast and I pretty much stop them and say a few things and then hand it over to my companion, but it is wonderful. It’s quite funny though because so far the nicest people to us are either older women, older intoxicated individuals, or (my personal favorite) the members of the church that I have no clue they are members until we go and talk to them or make a comment like "wow look at that family, they definitely would listen to our message!"  (smile)  The People are wonderful here!

There are unfortunately a lot of restrictions that have been placed on the work due to previous missionaries and what they felt was best, or didn’t work, and so sometimes I feel like I’m rocking the boat...but I just want to do all that I can for these people regardless of what they look like, what they do, how they seem, or what we feel like doing. I love the story of Ether.  I was able to read it again the other day and to see how focused it is on missionary work. I'd never recognized it before. He speaks of how with his faith and diligence, the Lord would bless him. I know that if we give it literally our all, break pseudo restrictions, and have complete faith in God that He IS preparing people in this area and that we WILL find, teach and baptize, bringing others to their Savior, then we cannot hope for anything but the blessings of the Lord. We have some things that are kosher here in the field that have become a part of the culture that is not in accordance with the exact rules of the mission, but we will fix that. I don’t want to feel like I am being a huge boat rocker to the point where we lose unity in our companionship, but I really feel like little by little we can do this.  Obedience to all rules.

Sunday I was able to attend our wonderful branch in Petrovsky and see how wonderful, loving, and young the members are. I couldn’t understand anything but did get to bear my testimony to them and share Alma 31:34-35 with the message that together we could seriously help others come unto Christ. I just need to have patience and be more in-tune to the Spirit in my teaching.

We also have and are going through the area book to find less actives and former investigators. Most of them do not really want to be talked to again, but one former investigator had a really cool story in finding her.  We had knocked on doors trying to find investigators (which again was unheard of in the area) and we were not having much success.  We tried to find this one lady named Galleena. In Ukraine everyone lives in kfarteeras with a main door to get to the stair case and then individual kfarteera doors inside.  Well, you have to have a key or call to get in which can be difficult at times, but we were able to miraculously get in. We let these two little girls into the elevator first since it was so small and then took it later (elevators are pretty spooky here). We got to the floor to see an open door and said jokingly, "hope that’s not ours"...but, it was (smile) and what made it even better was that the two girls were the girls that this lady nannies...service scores bonus points.  She immediately invited us in, closed all the doors and windows, turned on the air conditioning, grabbed her Bible and Book of Mormon and sat down ready to be taught. I was a little in shock, and wasn’t really sure what to say because I had never gotten past the typical "would you like to hear more about our message" part...(smile).  She was super kind and we set up a return appointment with even more potential.

Heavenly Father has blessed us so much and can only make me want to serve more. This is hard work, but it is all worth.  Even the turn downs, the rude people who yell at us ( which I cannot understand yet so it’s not that bad), or even the investigators that don’t show up for the 5th time an appointment was made, I know that this is His work. I have a lot to work on, a lot of fear to replace with faith (especially in the language), and a lot of things to improve on.  As long as I am working and improving each day, I know I cannot go wrong.

I love you all so much and am so glad to hear from you. I'll keep praying for all of you and do my best for my Father in Heaven, Savior, and you all!

с любовью

Старейшина Макэйдъ Клейпул