Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Faith to Move Mountains...

Hey mom, thank Aunt Gina for the letter and make sure that she knows that I love and adored every minute I had with Austin, Tyler, Savannah and her family. They mean a lot to me.

Elder Lukashuk was baptized and then literally 2 weeks after he was called by the Assistant to serve and then by President to confirm it. His family is pretty broken with his mom not even knowing he was baptized (he left home at 16) and his dad is indifferent about it. He doesn’t talk with his brothers (2) and sister. He is trying to make amends and improve his family circumstances.  


As for this week......... ;)


This last week was a week much like the island we were on last Christmas: virtually zero flat ground on the whole island. That’s how the week was, either up or down...but I’m starting to realize that that is the way life is. We did a lot of service being with a less active as he had to go through kidney dialysis multiple days and hardly could walk or move on his own. Then, after a very busy week with helping Brother Filamonov (the less-active). I had an interview with President Campero just like we all do every now and then. These last few weeks have been very humbling, no the interview was pretty humbling to say the least. President was very honest, but I don’t think he realized the effect of the interview on me and just what it did to make me think. President talked about a job that he had at General Motors as an engineer and the first day on the job. He was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of his work that he didn’t know if he could do it. And then he said something that stuck with me: "You can eat an elephant 1 bite at a time." I don’t know what happened from then till now, but I feel like the ever so small change has taken place in me, and because of my choice, I am moving forward. I’m striving to pray more sincerely, accept correction from my companion and seek it (super hard! ;) ), truly love, want others salvation, and exercise faith. I've always thought that faith to move mountains was meant to be this grandiose level of faith that only prophets achieved in this life; a level of faith in Jesus Christ that was so huge, the result was accordant. But this week, and this week was full of miracles (as have other weeks been because of my companion's faith), I am beginning to learn what I believe Christ meant: faith the size of a mustard seed is truly the smallest particle of faith we could have. It’s not large. It’s not impossible. It is the faith sufficient to choose the right when that next choice is placed before you. Step by step, choice by choice, bite by bite, shovel by shovel, this tiny speck of faith is enough to move mountains because it moves us forward. This faith is pushing all doubt out of our minds and knowing that truly God can do all miracles according to our faith. We found people this week. We found more new investigators in the course of Saturday and Sunday then I have ever found in my entire mission. I have never been happier. I have strove to be faithful and say regardless of all in front of me: "Yes, we can." The best part is, we all have the capability within us to exercise that particle of faith and move the mountain in front of us. That’s what I can testify of, because I saw it in my life the last two days. And remember that in the process of moving a mountain, the progress on the mountain is not as important as your orientation: always facing uphill.


I love you all so much! And as for Ukrainian winter...well it’s more like spring! For now... ;)


Elder Claypool

Letter from Aunt Gina and family

Dear MaKade,
I wanted to write to you to share a neat experience we had in homeschool this past week. The boys were asked to write a prompt. The prompt was "Who is your hero?" When I asked Austin he answered without hesitation, MaKade!. I asked him why and he said because he is serving a mission. I wanted to share with you what he continued to write about in his paper regarding this subject…

My cousin MaKade is my hero because he is a great example to me.
He is nice to everyone and he taught me how to play the piano. He taught me how to swim better and he went on a mission and I want to go on a mission too.
I am glad that I have a cousin that I can look at as my example.
Written by: Austin Wright

Thank you so much MaKade for setting an amazing example for my son and your younger cousin. I had not realized until now just how important you were to him. I wanted to make sure that you knew and to thank you for it. We are so proud of you and the amazing young man you continue to be. We pray for you as you are doing the Lords work.
Love, Gina and Family

Strive to be the best you can!

Hey mom!


Mike Dieter is coming to church again! If I remember correctly, Michael Guirsco and he and I wanted to start a band back in the day...good time ;) Ask him for me if he still plays the drums! And please give him a huge hug for me and tell him that I love him.


The weather actually isn’t too bad here. It’s been pretty warm...but then again, I don’t have a thermometer to check, just the amount-of-time-it-takes-until-my-face-is-frozen-meter ;).


This last week the holidays were almost completely over with New Year's, Christmas, Old New Year’s (by an ancient calendar they used to use), and so many fireworks. Seriously everyday was like the fourth of July for a while ;) Investigator wise, we lost Tamara the other day because of her daughter who is against us meeting with Tamara. It’s just so sad to see the devil at work. However, our member Loodmila, with whom we were working with Tamara, is not giving up and going straight to the source to talk with the daughter. We'll be praying for the conversation. Other than that, we started meeting with Alexander and Alla again since they are back from the holidays (and Alla on the last lesson recognized that she felt the Holy Ghost before in her life when praying! Its small, but still progress!), Sergei and Andrei are both learning English with us to make up the time while we don’t have English class...guess the Lord puts people in our paths for a reason!


This last week was a little better in regards to my patience and attitude but I still need some work. It’s amazing how much I truly focus on myself and how much the stress and hardships I have really only come out of my own selfishness. That's what I’m working on this next week.


This last week also, amidst the crazy stresses and fun times with a ward Book of Mormon party and being with Sister Semonova all day (due to the incredible package you sent me!!!! Thank you so much by the way especially for the blanket and PMG! You are seriously the best mom! and twins too ;) ) I was really able to learn more about missionary work and what that really means. Service needs to always be our focus. When we serve others, naturally Heavenly Father gives us success. This last week we literally just went around trying to serve people and not just try to get their contact. I can testify that that is what the Savior would do. He was just there with the goal to help all and make all know that there, yes, is a way, but more importantly that they were loved. I feel privileged for this opportunity to become more like Him...He was incredible.


I love you all so much and know that the Savior really is the only way to happiness. If we want to be really happy with out that empty feeling that comes when the temporal happiness is gone, take on the form of the servant, Strive - don’t try - strive to be the best you can, and then in studying and acting like the Savior, rely on his grace to actually accomplish it. This is what I’m going to strive to do, because I don’t quite know this to be true in my heart. I will though.


I love you all so much and pray for you!!

Elder Claypool

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Love Christ and Serve. No excuses.

  Hi everyone!

Thanks for your letters. Glad everyone is well. I included pictures that I promised from when Elder Harvey (my first companion) left until now.
It sounds like you had a way fun New Years! We....had to be inside, but were able to practice the Message of the Restoration some more. Elder Lugashuk is growing so much and its definitely not because of me. You asked me to share about how he joined the church and became my missionary companion. Well, he's so prepared. So here is his full conversion story briefly:
He met with an Elderly coulple in a store one day and because he knew a few words in English and was the store manager, he thought he would go talk to them. He was super busy, pretty much only said hi and then accepted an invitation/pamphlet they gave him, and then he forgot about their conversation soon after. On the bus ride home he thought about checking his pockets and saw the pamplet. When he saw it was about the Mormons, he laughed and thought "oh, another one." He had studied religion in his life, his mom being Russian Orthodox and his dad being raised Catholic. He couldn't find answers and became an Atheist. Religion became too confusing.
He decided that since he had heard a lot of horrible things about the LDS church (commonly referred to as Mormons because people have a hard time remembering the full name of our church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and because people make up negative stories about Mormons he decided he would look into it himself since the pamphlet teachings looked interesting. He showed up that Monday morning at the church at 8 in the morning. Of course it was locked and closed. But he came back again and again everyday at random hours until finally he met someone. He attended sacrament meeting his first time and knew this was what he had wanted to be for the rest of his life. The missionaries taught him and then he was baptized 8 December 2012. That meant that from the time he had met with the missionaries to his baptism (November 13 to December 8) was very short, but he was very prepared. And after being a member for merely 2 weeks, he's now on a mission as my new companion. This is a trial mission for a few months. His family will not speak with him and his brother even told him he is not his brother anymore. He turns 26 years old in March and plans on continuing to serve a full-time (2 year) mission if allowed. He is happy. After me having only been physically in Ukraine for three months, I'm grateful for our mission president to give me such a wonderful opportunity and the gift of this language. My companion Elder Lugashuk Is seriously one that I can see us being friends forever, and our mission here is not going to be our only time togther I feel. I am amazed by his sincerity and example to me at such a young age in the Church and doctrine...I do want to pull my hair out at times because of my pride and magnification of my imperfections around him, but when I manage to humble myself enough to push all that past me (meaning my pride), I cannot help but laugh, pray, and thank my Heavenly Father for this opportunity.
There is much to learn from this but consider the following:

1. Nobody can say he or she doesn't know enough to serve a mission. Be worthy and serve. No excuses. (only a member for two weeks....sounds like the 1830s when new members were asked to go on missions and leave their farms and families).
2. God loves all His children, even ones that claim they don't know Him (atheist).
3. Simple missionary moments. That couple handed him a pamphlet. They planted a seed.
4. Once the seed was planted, his interest grew. He made a continued effort to Love the Savior. He didn't just try going to the church and claim he tried and nobody was there. He didn't quit.
5. Be prepared.
6. Come home. Come unto me as the Savior so eloquently and simply said.

As for the work this week, even-though this last week was seemingly just like any other of hard work and people not wanting to listen to us, I feel a little more changed and a little better too. I feel more torn down and worn down as the Lord continues to mold and shape me...and I feel at times like I have taken leaps and bounds backwards...and forwards...but I am starting to really understand things...I am starting to really be me. I know that when we diligently seek the will of the Father, and then seek to courageously fulfill it, we have nothing to worry about.
I love you all and really do testify that in prayer, fasting, and scripture study lies all the revelation you will ever need. Don't look somewhere else for an answer. Those answers will not be from God.
Until next week,
Elder Claypool

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Hey Family and all! (sorry if there wasn't a post from me last week, I got to open the greatest present in the world! Being with my family on Skype!)

That is so cool to see that the missionary work is booming in your area! This last year we had a golden year in our mission and broke record with the number of baptism in our mission for the month of December. I believe it was in total 62 for the year of 2012 and we're excited for the new year! I'm also so glad that you were able to finish (or will finish) the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I started and then things got crazy and it looks like I'm going to just have to continue next year, however, I will be reading it in Russian next year all the way through...I might need more than 3 months though ;)

This last Christmas was my first Christmas ever away from home and really it was marvelous. New companion, familiar area, a wonderful district, bright new year ahead of me, and the opportunity to talk with you! When I was sitting there opening the package that you had sent me I was super excited. When I was at home, I'll admit that it was always my favorite part of Christmas was opening gifts for me...so again this year I was excited because I had a box waiting for me at home. After our conversation I opened the contents and was pretty satisfied, very grateful in fact...but I realized later that day that nothing - nothing - no gift on the face of the earth was better to open on Christmas than pushing that call button on the computer to talk with you all. It felt like we had never been apart, and yet I realized how much I missed you all. To hear your testimonies and stories made it feel like another Christmas eve (just with a little more attention focused on me ;) ) I thank my Heavenly Father with all my heart that I know with out a shadow of a doubt and with promise from God that my family can live together forever. I thank you and dad for making the decision to be married by the Holy Priesthood of God in His Temple so that our family could be sealed to each other forever. Can you imagine not being with the people you love the most forever. I cannot imagine it. If nothing else, that is the greatest reason to do all that you can with your callings, friends, and family so that "in the end of the ends" (as they would say in Ukraine) you can have that eternal unit together for eternity.

My Companion Elder Lugashok is doing wonderful and I will admit when I say that this is pretty hard. I'm realizing that I am not patient...at all. My humility and ability love are about as big as a snowflake, and that my pride...well he's almost his own person by now since he's grown so much ;) In short, I've got a good transfer ahead of me to improve ;) However, in closing I do want to testify of one thing that has immensely helped. As human beings we are very prideful, impatient, selfish, and "natural" (as is said in the scriptures), but we know that it is the Spirit of the Lord that brings to us the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to change us. Only when we yield ourselves to God can we become what we have the potential to be. When we are baptized by proper authority and by immersion (this preceding the necessary gifting to us the gift of the Holy Ghost) we covenant with God to do a few things: first, take the name of Jesus Christ upon ourselves, keep His Commandments, and strive to always remember him. When we strive and are willing to do this, what does the Lord promise to us? That his Spirit, or that Carrier of all things good and the changing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will always dwell with us. If you want to change and improve, and I testify that the few times I was patient this last week was because of such, then fulfill your baptismal covenant. Seek to remember the Lord Jesus Christ, know the answer to the question, "What would Jesus Do," and then courageously and humbly do so. It will bring the Spirit into your lives. I testify of that. That's my goal for this week too: Be like the little children in our branch that so beautifully and humbly sang "I'm trying to be like Jesus."

I love you all!
Elder Claypool

PS, I have not received your package. Love you!