Sunday, November 25, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HIS HAND IS WITH YOU - November 12, 2012

Dear everybody-

Hope those pictures work for you mom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you all so much!

Elder Claypool

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

Stay Determined through Trials - Nov. 5, 2012

Dear Family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Claypool

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

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012


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