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

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