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 

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