Derek opens his mission call

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ukraine is experiencing a severe cold snap

hey, everybody! i just realized that i missed groundhogs day! aaaahhh!!! darn.

here are some answers to questions: i am doing well. we have found a few people, mostly more brothers. it is not quite alexeevka, but there are a lot of foreign students here as well. so we got several of their contacts, hopefully they will meet. but we shall see. it is pretty here, though usually it is too cold to take pictures. i will try to take some more this week, and send them next time. we both really want to go see the russian border. i'm not sure where it is, but we will figure it out. and the branch runs...but it struggles.

the mission office just sent us an email regarding the cold. here is the first line:
European news sources are saying Ukraine is hardest hit by this recent arctic weather and has the highest mortality worldwide, of over 122 people to date who have died from the cold.

so our investigator galina, who was on date, unfortunately slipped on the ice and fell, and she got pretty hurt, from what it sounds like. it was pretty terrible. she is getting some sort of surgery today, maybe. either way, it is a long process of healing. so it will be at least 3 weeks before she can meet with us or come to church. it was very bad news. so she could use your prayers.

we had several meetings this week with investigators. it kind of seems that none of them are going anywhere. it is sad, because they are all really cool people with a lot of potential, but for one reason or another, are really slowly progressing. like this girl nina, she knows it is all true, totally believes everything, but her parents are competely against the church. her mom even said that she will kill herself if she gets baptized. and it has been like this for about 2 years. and then there is a new investigator, nicolai, who thinks the book of mormon is true, joseph smith is a prophet, and the church is true. but he thinks all churches are true if they are of god. and no matter how we explain it, he just can't get it. i've had a hundred investigators like him.

our apartment is pretty cold. but it is my best apartment so far. it even has a piano! and a guitar, but i don't play the guitar. but it is still legit. this week the zone leaders came, and showed us around the area a little bit. they both served here earlier. we were walking around, and there was this place that was kind of like a wind tunnel effect, and we had to walk against it for like 10 minutes. it was the coldest my face has ever been. we were all crying. it was so cold. i can't describe how cold it was. it was unhealthy.

things are well, not much new. i'm happy and taking my vitamin d daily. still not seeing much sun. they say it should warm up a little bit in another week or so. i don't know by how much, but any little bit helps. i'm pretty tired.

in other news, i am about 20 pages away from the end of the old testament. so that is really good news.

i love you guys. you are ze best! thanks for all the letters and other things.

love, elder brimley

(Below is a letter from the mission office to the parents of the missionaries)

Dear Parents,
All missionaries here are safe and warm. Their health seems to be good; President has provided nutritional supplements and we are not hearing of respiratory illnesses. It is true Ukraine is experiencing a severe cold snap and there have been many deaths related to the cold weather as you have probably seen in the news. We are very concerned here for the safety of every missionary during this “at risk” time. Besides the typical safety net precautions such as staying in companionships, always having a working cell phone on their person and coming in on time, we have stressed the following to each missionary:
1. NEVER create supplemental heat in your apartment with any gas appliance or open flame.

2. Always plan ahead so you do not miss bus schedules etc.

3. Every time you leave the apartment, even if you think it will be for a moment, dress warmly.

4. You are encouraged to discuss additional heating needs if your apartment is still cold after the supplemental electric oil filled heaters are not adequate.

5. Wear proper thermals, scarves, gloves and hear gear.

6. Gas detectors are in each apartment and should be checked regularly in addition to once a transfer checks by the mission.

This note is meant to communicate our concerns and actions and not meant to alarm you. Most of the deaths are in the missions to the north of us and are homeless persons or those who got too drunk and fell down in the snow late at night.
Thank you for your son or daughter’s service and preparation to serve this mission.
We do love and appreciate them.
Ukraine Donetsk Mission

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lugansk is such a great place. It is a beautiful place.

Hello from my new area (Lugansk)!!!!!

If i'm not mistaken, Brad (Derek's cousin) served here (yes he did). I don't know if he reads this, but maybe he would like to pass a message or something along to somebody here. if they are still around, that could be cool. I literally thought that I had gone to the best area of the mission, Alexeevka, so anything next would be a step down. I was wrong. this is just as good. it is a satellite city about 5 hours north-east of donetsk. right on the border of russia. most people here consider themselves russians. It is one of two cities in our mission with a magical restaurant called 'blinok', a delicious crepe restaurant. man its good! my companion and I are white washing in, which means we both are new here. my companion is one transfer older than me, and going home in two transfers, so I will be his last companion. so out of all possible combinations of areas and companions, I have the very best of the very best. I literally couldn't possibly ask for better. I will probably die here after killing my companion. which sounds wonderful. I can't describe how lucky I am. luckiest person in the world. we are loving life. and eating a lot of blinok.

saying goodbye to the brothers was sad. they are all pretty legit. saying goodbye to Festus and alfred was pretty sad, you never know what is going to happen to investigators, especially those from Africa. but actually, I got a call yesterday from Elder Hales, and they put alfred on date, so they could have 2 baptisms this transfer. in my area right now we have a cool lady on date to be baptized on february 18th, and she was at church yesterday! she is a middle aged woman with friends in the church, so it could definitely happen. and she has a daughter who is an investigator, as well. so good things are happening here. the branch is pretty weak. about 30 people come, there are probably about 3 solid priesthood holders, it is a lot like ol' Mariupol. growing, slowly.

(Warning: Derek describes a crazy dream he had. This didn't really happen to him. And by the way he really does love Elder Mendoza.)
so I had a crazy dream to share with you. I had this dream thursday night. so it was me, and a few other missionaries, the only one I remember being was Elder Mendoza. we were in this crazy place, like an underground sewer place, but it was a sort of filthy sewer kingdom/ castle thing. its weird. there was the whole shebang there- a king, queen, princes, jesters, everything. well, Mendoza decided that we were going to start a revolution, so we started a little battle with them. it went on for a while, we were just killing each other. I was just killing everything in sight. just mercilessly. during the battle I wandered outside of the underground sewer castle and started killing people with another missionary, elder Nielsen. he kicked this little kid in the face, and it died. It was at about that moment when we both realized: this wasn't just an underground sewer kingdom. it was hell. we were in hell. and we realized that Mendoza was the devil. satan. we realized that we had been fighting for satan unbeknownst to us. we ran back to the castle, but it was too late. there was Mendoza, sitting on his throne, fire all around him. everyone was in chains. so i run up to him, to try to kill him, but there was an invisible force field around him, so i got knocked back. the dream ended with Mendoza laughing, and it was a pretty messed up dream.

i dont remember dreams that often, so that was pretty exciting. the next day we met a member of the branch named lance. lance. he is from canada. he is something of a legend in our mission. we heard that he was a dream interpreter, so we asked him about my dream. he interpreted it, and it was madness- he went off for a while about rape in liberia. he's one of those guys in the mission. crazy. but funny.

lugansk is such a great place. it is a beautiful place. i'm in the center of the city and it is just wonderful. it is also really cold. really, really cold. and everyone keeps telling us that it is going to get colder. our apartment is really cold too. but blinok cafe is nice and warm. seriously, our first night here was the coldest i've been on my mission. which probably means its the coldest i've been in my life. but don't worry. i will SURVIVE.

We met the branch on sunday, they are all pretty great people. a lot of old ladies, a handful of men, and several young women. pretty much the same as everywhere. strong-faithed individuals, but just don't quite know how to function as a branch yet. they will learn. it will just take a few more years.

so I'm very happy to be here. I should be finishing my mission here, if I have anything to do with it. I pray I do. great place, great companion, just perfect. couldn't ask for better. oh, by the way, my companion's name is Elder Pulsipher. he is from Colorado, at least that is where is family lives right now. he is Lizzie Fotheringham's cousin, which is funny. he is going to BYU this summer. we are getting along great.

ok, I love you guys. the gospel is true, the church is true, and the book of mormon is true.

love, elder Brimley

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm going to be leaving xarkov

Hello my dear family and friends and aquaintances!!!!!!!!!! and if any enemies read this, hello to you too!!!!!!!!!

new jersey spanish speaking!!!!!! ive never heard of that town. i barely know anything about the whole state! oh that’s so great. may 16. poo. at least you don't have to wait so long. well that’s legit. just a few more months. for both of us! woo hoo!

so all in all, my week was pretty eventless, except for one huge surprise: i got a transfer call. training is supposed to be for 2, and its only been one. so.... i don't really know what is up. i am pretty sad that i'm leaving alekseevka, but i guess i'll just have faith in the power of revelation, and do what i'm told. but lets pray its good. i'm going to be leaving xarkov on thursday, so before then i'm going to want to get some souvenirs. this is the best, cheapest place in the mission to get them. i think we will be going on either tuesday or wednesday morning. so.... if there were some money on my personal card, i wouldn't be angry. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so tuesday morning rolls around and lo and behold- my companion is as sick as a dog. he hasn't been sleeping, and he just has felt like garbage, so we figured the best thing to do is not go outside in the freezing cold and make it worse. we still did some work each day, but we were forced to take it easy, for his sake. but don't worry, we worked as much as we could. it was just one of those weeks... don't worry, we bought some sleeping pills, and he is feeling a lot better now.

we had a funny lesson with this crazy less active lady. she just kind of talks. for every second you are there, she is talking. and it is all madness. she spends a lot of time in a hospital, and she was telling us about when she was leaving the hospital, someone asked her how she was going to live. she said "a hospital, it's a hospital. home, it is home. and that's that." she said this crazy 8 minute long prayer, where she blessed us with exactly what God had blessed her with: "one. a good member. two. a love for the people. three. a good voice, just in case they sing. and four. love for the people." and as always, she made sure to warn us before we left, to protect our legs! "for, if we will not protect our legs, then we will not be able to walk". she probably doesn't sound as crazy as she is in person. but she is. i promise.

luckily, on sunday, we had two investigators there! festos came, and alfred, our new investigator came too. they both came 1 1/2 hours late, but oh well. they are both doing good. alfred we had a lesson with after church, and he is doing great. he is a way humble guy. he was really excited to learn about the plan of salvation. he loved the new things he learned, especially about how he chose to come here. he said he never knew that God had given him the choice to come to earth, and he had chosen. he really liked that. and the three kingdoms thing, he liked that as well.

last night contacting, we met an american! he was from new york city. it was crazy to hear his queens accent, and talk to him for a bit. yesterday we got two cool contacts: one from pakistan, the other from jordan, both english speakers. i'm going to miss this area. best area in the mission.

ok. thanks for everything. i love you guys. and i love the church! i know it's all true. i'm getting close to finishing the old testament, and i know that even it is true now. aaahhh i love it all. you guys are the best.

elder brimley