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