Derek opens his mission call

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

merry Christmas! and a happy new year! that was the greatest Christmas I've had since last year's.

whoa, the internet club i'm in just started playing losing my religion by r.e.m. that is surprising. ah, this is the good stuff.

TALKING TO YOU WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME. that was the greatest hour(ish) of my life. yeah the connection wasn't great, but i could hear you good enough. the delay was annoying though. i would tell hilarious jokes and you wouldn't laugh hysterically for a few seconds, it was disconcerting. so I'm thinking skype on mothers day. i hope y'all had a good and merry Christmas, mine was really good. thanks for the call.

...i thought that i heard you laughing...i thought that i heard you cry... (R.E.M. song)

it was a good week. it didn't really feel like Christmas, though. well, parts did. cuz it actually isn't Christmas here (they have a bigger celebration for New Years, and smaller for Christmas), though members kind of celebrate it on the 25 with America for some reason. but also, Christmas is happy, and Ukraine isn't.

so Monday night we had a cool Donetsk dinner party, it was cool, lots of good Ukrainian food. you are right Nicole, I'm going to have to get some recipes, there are some good stuff. i don't know if you will be able to make it well in America. they have this generic meat they put in everything, i think it would be hard to duplicate. Tuesday all day we had a missionary party, we went to a church building and did some service, which included chipping the ice around the building and making packages slash Christmas cards (nonreligious Christmas cards, if that makes sense) for orphans, with like sidewalk chalk and fun stuff in them. after we played some games, some contests, ate some more food (sandwiches!) plus a cake that actually was quite tasty. there is a tradition where all the districts make up little songs about our districts. they were all really funny, i recorded them so when i get back home I'll show them to you. it was a good day. we have a lot of really cool missionaries, fun, friendly, normal people.

Wednesday was a normal day, a bunch of home teaching, ahem, lessons with members. Thursday we had cleaning checks from the fry's (Mission President), which we NAILED. fry's were very happy with us. Friday is the day we have planning, district meeting, and a branch correlation meeting, so there is usually only time for like one lesson at night. we agreed on Thursday with the guy who is supposed to come to the correlation meeting that we would just go back with him to his house for a lesson after the meeting. he said great. well he didn't show to the meeting, so we call and he is like, 'no, of course I'm not coming! its Christmas eve! I'm hanging out with my family!' we were like, man, i wish i could ditch my calling and go hang out with family. so it was a downer, the four of us were sitting alone Christmas eve, and everyone we called told us no.

luckily, a bit later, some awesome members showed up at our apartment and caroled for us, and we joined them for the rest of the night, which was way fun. one of those tender mercies, i guess.

Saturday was just zamachatelno. magnificent. it was a well balanced day. we started out with like three hours straight of contacting on this street. I've learned to love contacting, it is so fun. there are so many different approaches, so many interesting people and conversations you have. i never feel more like a missionary than when I'm talking to people on the street. then we had a couple of babushka lessons, one with the lady who broke her arm, so like i said, a balanced day. except for no investigators, but i think I'm done with investigators anyways. i don't know why elders are so obsessed with them. who needs 'em? all they bring is pain and anguish. (on an unrelated note, yoolie didn't come to church again, after promising several times he would.)

the branch party was great: a little program about Christ's birth, little kids singing Christmas songs (i think little kids singing in Russian is the cutest thing I've ever seen), a lot of food, half good and half pretty bad. lots of people, which made it feel like home. the kids here are crazy, maybe a little too rowdy for a church, but that's cool, at least our branch has kids. I've been giving them the little gifts you sent me, and they go crazy over them. they all love me now. i found the secret. even this guy who is like a year older than me asked me for a bouncy ball and was playing with it during church. i guess it is all new for them. Sunday was good, the kids did a Christmas program, very cute.

have i told you about the mud here? it is just ridiculous. all the snow has melted, so it is just outrageously muddy. and there is no way around it, either. you just get muddy and deal with it. like you clean your shoes before you walk to church, and they are just as dirty once you get there.

so this week we are trying to speak Russian 100%, at least to each other. we have been doing OK, we will see how it actually works, but it is good. the more i speak, the easier it gets.

KATELYN (Cousin) congratulations!!!! you are in for a treat. South Carolina, right? that is so cool, you are going to rip it up. good luck.

grandma and grandpa thanks so much for the money! merry Christmas to you!

so this week i start into my 'black year', my year that is completely in the country of Ukraine. i feel like i have hit a milestone.

oh i watched the videos (from ward YM/YW), thanks for those.

I'm out of stuff to say, so this is goodbye until the sledooshee ponadelnik. da sveedanya.
love, elder brimley

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Excited for Christmas

priviet y'all

sounded like the funeral was really good, i wish i could have been there. it sounded really nice. it must be nice to have it all finished.

happy six month mark on a mission to me, by the way. well a few days ago. how weird is that, i don't even believe it. i remember thinking when i went into the mtc that the next time i would talk to my family, i would be able to speak Russian. i mean, a half a year complete immersion in any language is enough right? ha, ha, ha. no. i guess there is a good reason my mission goes for another three of those. maybe by may when i talk to you next? man. but yeah! we get to talk on Christmas! call at 12:30 your time, 9:30 my time. no earlier, please, as my companion will be on the phone right then. don't forget!

so it wasn't the greatest work week, unfortunately. Calvert got sick on Monday night, so we didn't leave the apartment until Thursday, and even then he didn't feel good enough to party too hard. though it gave me a lot of time for studying- i finished my first grammar book, and know, in principle at least, all the useful words therein. steep, in general! that is what Russians say, instead of cool. steep, in general. i read my first Chekhov short story! in Russian. another milestone... so now i am in a review stage, to make sure i actually know my flashcards, and can call them to memory quickly. that is the challenge. i also memorized a short Pushkin poem. i promise i studied hard.

other than that, we had a funny night Thursday. it is less active night, and we were meeting a crazy red head named lilia at the branch building. she got there first, and was waiting outside (i have the keys) when some guy came up and talked to her. then we got there. he kind of looked like Robert downey jr. well only kind of. he said he had some questions, so we let him in, didn't want to waste an opportunity, even if the guy seemed a little eccentric. well we sit down and start talking, and he says he has a question. here is his question: 'why did god create man?' but later, my companion said that what he was really asking was 'why did god WANT to create man?' but in Russian, apparently you don't have to say that. anyways, that doesn't matter, because the guy was fairly drunk, and a moron. so he rambles on, blah blah blah, i try to answer him, talk to him, but i soon realize, the guy is a moron. i got tired of it, and my comp wasn't saying anything (He said, 'I lost the ability to speak Russian because the spirit wasn't present'), so i stepped in. I was a little shocked that i could say this in Russian: 'listen. we have answered your question. but you are drunk and don't understand. maybe if you are sober, we will talk later. exit the building.' and so he did. sometimes you just have to take control. drunks... gotta love 'em. can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

this lady randomly walked into church yesterday, said she had a Mormon friend and she would be coming every week. said she didn't really want to meet with us, but that she really liked our church meeting. you should have seen the members, they were all over her (and she had a little baby boy). she made a lot of new friends and felt really welcome, it seemed. we think we are going to try to get the bogmets to invite her over for a family night with us, maybe she would be more willing. posmotrime. we shall see.

nothing too special other than that the last few days. well we went over to that lady who broke her arm, and gave her a blessing. babooshki getting hurt stinks. they just aren't healthy. and now I'm feeling kind of sick, don't really feel like eating. nothing bad, just some pinoose, you know? it will be gone soon, i hope.

the weather here has really stunk. it snowed a lot, but then rained. so there is a lot of really wet, slick snow, lots of huge puddles of water, and black ice. to me the weather is not pleasing. also, it seems the colder it gets, the drunker everybody gets. there were a few people this week we saw that were soo drunk. like that I'm pretty sure passed out in the snow and froze to death in the middle of the night.

speaking of dead bodies, whenever anyone dies, they all just kind of solemnly crowd around the body. I've seen a couple of them right outside our building, it is always a little creepy. i like our funerals better.

hey, how many generations do we go back in the church? like who was baptized first and stuff? I've had several people ask me that, I've been meaning to ask.

yes, i love the packages! yeah, I'm sharing. made the cookies yesterday and brought them to a couple inactives and then to lena. lena said: you can't possibly understand how much i love you. she really likes cookies.

and I'm not too worried about our neighbors. you should see our doors locking system. there are like ten bolt locks on it, plus it is like pure titanium or something like that.

good to hear that you are doing cool stuff with the Young Single Adults (we took them to a Jazz game), that is fun. i want to work with youth when i get back. there is just so darned much of it in Utah. oh man, camp outs sound like so much fun. probably because what I remember is much cleaner/ classier than all of Ukraine.

I AM SO EXCITED TO TALK TO YOU. or, in Russian, ya ochen...oh you can't say that in Russian. "phone calls to me are very pleasing." should have a good week, lots of fun mission stuff.

I'm rambling again. я знаю церковь- истинна! oh man typing is hard. well thanks for everything! i gotta go. I'll talk to some of you on Saturday YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH

love, elder brimley.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Awesome letter from Derek

(Note: We received permission from Derek's mission president for us to call him to tell him that my mom had passed away. So we called and talked to him late last night. He sounded great!)

good...morning, right? or are you still up? it is morning for me.

it was good to hear your voices, even if it was for bad news. made me excited for Christmas, that will be a good eight or twelve hours, ha ha. I'm really sorry about grandma, but i guess it was just time. all i can think to say is all the old cliche lines, but you seem to be doing well, so keep up that, i guess.

otherwise, I've already said to my parents a lot of what i planned on saying in this email, but i guess there is the rest of you who read these thingies.

i got the packages!!!! all four! and another from the Groesbecks, Serafines, and Davidsons!!!!!! having a huge family pays off. thanks so much for the stuff, namely: vanilla wafers!!! new socks!!! Christmas tree!!! silly little bands!!! those will come sure in handy? and the stocking!!!! and way too much chocolate!!! little kids are going to love me. also, sister lena said she was going to be my very best friend, as i said i got a bunch of American food. and thanks groesbecks davidsons and serafines for the CD (i love Christmas music!) and new tie and that awesome plan of salvation puzzle (I've been meaning to get one!) I have the best family ever! everyone here is pretty impressed.

Before i forget: that's awesome Katelyn (mission call), I'm so excited for you! i hope it comes this week, i want to know next week. as for advice, i don't think there is all too much you can do to prepare for something like this other than just doing it. one thing i would say is to just make an effort to be friends with those around you, companions, members, investigators. it isn't easy, especially comps. but it is worth the effort. also congrats Matt and Stacy, give Graham Stuart a big sloppy one from me. thanks for the note, Groesbecks, glad to hear things are somehow getting along without out me there. surprising.

kind of a strange week. Tuesday we had a lot of lessons, then Wednesday only one. Thursday we had a bunch again, then none on Friday, and one on Saturday. it snowed again, and therefore we had a lot of canceled appointments. the weather controls the people of Ukraine. there were lots of people missing from church. "there is snow on the ground! are you crazy?!" though i will say that one babooshka on her way to church yesterday slipped and broke her arm in like five places. I've almost died a few times as well. it is slippery.

our district is also a 'test district', (have i told you this already?) which means: we go out to work from 9 to 12 am, working only with nonmembers (lots of trying to find former investigators and tracting), then get the rest of our studies sometime else during the day. also one day a week we are dedicating to only nonmembers as well, so no meetings with members or less actives. it is an interesting idea that takes some planning, and it doesn't always work, like on Tuesday. we left at nine, worked, had lessons until about nine thirty at night. that was a really long day, and i really need my studies. it is interesting doing something a little different, there is good with bad, as always. we'll see how the rest of the transfer goes.

this has all been really vague. specifics... have i told you about our neighbors? they hate our guts for some reason. probably because a few years ago they knocked down my apartment's door and stole everything, then went to jail for a while for it. yeah that is probably why. But recently they have been all up in our faces. knocking on our door and ringing our doorbell, just trying to annoy us. we don't answer the door to anyone, let alone that creepy guy we can see through the door hole. this other lady also started yelling at us yesterday. we share a door with them, it is hard to explain. she said: dorageeye tavarishee, dear comrades, then yelled for a while. we said, OK, we are going to church. we have a really nice door now.

we had a good meeting with this guy roman, he is an English student, so i don't think he is too interested in the church (we meet him at his house, so it is allowed). but gosh him and his mom are so friendly. i mean, we are teaching him English for free, so he has good reason to be nice. but not everyone is. once in a while we meet nice, normal people and i realize there is this idea of 'hope' floating around even Ukraine. people have so much potential to be wonderful- kind, happy, Christlike, i guess sums it up. it seems so easy, and i wonder why more people aren't better to each other, until i look at myself and realize, no, it's not easy. but that potential makes people so worth the effort. i guess that's what missionaries try to do, help people realize their potential, realize that they are children of an all powerful God who hasn't forgotten about them. it is hard to see, to believe sometimes. I've been trying hard to keep that in mind as I've been here. sometimes (often) in busses the people are so crammed in, you can't move your arms, you are stuck and sweaty, and everyone just smells awful, and most of them are at least partly drunk, some all of the way, and you feel like an animal just being herded someplace. doesn't really seem too kingly, noble, but once in a while you see it. i don't know what 'it' is, and i don't know how or why i sometimes see it, but after our English/ spiritual lesson with roman, i just had that playing in my head- 'he is a son of God.' missions are interesting.

what else, shto yesho... did i mention I'm really excited to talk to you on Christmas? oh! i read my first skazka, or child story fairy tail thing. it was in my grammar book, about a little fox. it was short and simple, a story for little kids. i feel like it is a big milestone in my Russian learning. next in the grammar book is a full short story by Chekhov.

I've shown several people my pictures recently and every time, without fail, they specifically mention you, mom- 'kak krasiva!' 'how beautiful!' every time. 'znayoo', 'i know.'

hm, investigator news... yoolie was busy Sunday, so didn't come to church/ we haven't met with him since last week when he said he wanted to be baptized. i don't think he really understands it is a really big thing. 'the twenty fifth right? good, we still have time.' hopefully we can meet with him in the next week and explain to him what exactly baptism is going to mean. Alexander, I'm pretty sure we are going to drop. he is an eternal investigator. i think that phrase is funny. our last meeting he was fairly drunk. he is really smart, believes it all, understands it all, just doesn't DO anything. too bad, he is a really nice guy. did i talk about alla? she is a professional fencer, though she is paralyzed. we had a meeting with her a little while ago with her ex-j dub (Jehovah's Witness) friend. they both seemed somewhat interested. the ex-j dub said he sinned, so they kicked him out of the church. but they were cool, i really respect alla, she is amazing. so... i still hope for maxime. he is sooo legit. he is my one real hope. pray for these people.

yeah, I've learned some new Russian words, Nate. here is one: lavatchka. it means 'little bench in a peasant hut'. diminuatives are crazy in Russian, but fun to play around with. i guess you don't know what I'm talking about.

i think I've run out of things to write. I'm going to go buy a CD player, or maybe something else to play music on. ha ha, lady gaga just started playing in this club. i was really surprised when i found out that both her and Stephanie Meyer had made it to Ukraine. the elders quorum president keeps asking me if i can join him and get 'baptized' into the orthodox church with him on the seventh of January. everyone just jumps into some melted snow in the shape of a cross, and he does it every year apparently. i think i might. OK now I'm just rambling.

well have a good week all. ya boodoo. i will. merry Christmas! church is true! Christ was born and saved us all! i love christmas.

with respect, elder brimley

Monday, December 6, 2010

Really good week

hello to all.

the packages are here!!!!! i haven't picked them up from the office yet (right after internet i will) but they somehow made it to Ukraine!!!!! spacibo bolshoye. i really appreciate it. I'm very excited for them.

snow!!!!!!!! it snowed last week!! finally. though then it warmed up a little bit, just enough to melt all the snow, and everything was just complete mud. mud, ice, and giant water puddles everywhere. it is really cold here, i finally had to buy a beanie, which i LOVE. it is really cold. contacting got a lot harder, and so did tracting to... uh, chastni domes, like little individual houses. so we have been doing lots of dome tracting, that is, giant apartment complex tracting. somehow that has become the most productive use of our time (up from last place last week). we have actually met some cool people, a couple people who somehow already have copies of the book of Mormon, and have read and liked it. and say they are willing to meet with us. that is the first step to a white Christmas!

speaking of Christmas, we are allowed to listen to all Christmas music, not just motab now! the only thing is, i don't have any Christmas CD's. the other thing is, we don't have anything to play Christmas cd's on. don't worry, we will figure something out. i can't go through the Christmas season without Christmas music. we are searching far and wide, it might actually come to buying one, but that is the last resort. is there a sufjan stevens Christmas CD? i might need that for next years Christmas.

we had a really good week. we got every standard of excellence but one, which is two investigators at church. and even then, we had one at church, so I'm happy with the week. we have been doing a lot of good work, lots of meeting with less/ inactives, a couple of them we even got to come to church. lots of figuring the area/ area book/ ward list out, figuring out who is active, who isn't, who is in our area, who moved several years ago, etc. it has given us lots of opportunities to find people who have fallen through the cracks and get to know them. i have met a lot of people in the branch who i didn't know before this week, which is fun. have i told you about their cool tradition of showing pictures to each other to get to know each other? its my favorite, you just say, lets get to know each other, i brought my pictures, and they get all excited and you tell them about your pictures, and family, and home, and america, and they show you theirs (i love pictures of old communist Russia). it is a cool thing they do.

i had one really cool meeting with a really awesome active family, the bogmets. they are a younger couple with one young daughter, yoori served a mission in Moscow or something. but we met with them, ate a bunch of food, drank coffee, just had a good time. afterward i realized that i had been speaking Russian and joking around at the SAME TIME. and the joking around wasn't about how i couldn't speak or understand Russian! it has just been awhile since i have had a fun family night gathering thing where i can do anything but sit there and smile. that was nice. and no, i can't speak Russian yet.

our district is having a good time for the Christmas season. the zone leaders have given us a bunch of little gifts for every day until Christmas, just little stuff like soap, candy, TEA, etc. oh, by the way, oreos are here! suddenly they appeared in like every store. it is a Christmas miracle. also our district has like a daily challenge for each companionship to do something, like preach on a crate, or give flowers to babyshky, or go caroling. it is fun stuff.

oh! we need to figure out a time to talk on Christmas. when works for you? we are nine hours ahead of you, so sometime before noon, or something. unfortunately I'm not going to be able to do skype (though you can). apparently there was this unspoken agreement between everyone, that there was no official rule for or against skype, so a lot of people did it last year. everyone just made sure that nobody actually asked president, because that would shatter the unspoken agreement. my companion is the guy that asked president. so I'm not going to be able to. maybe for mothers day? hopefully. i think that would be awesome. so I'm going to send you like my cell phone number, and some password, and you'll be able to call my phone. and we'll talk for "one" hour.

my companion is a very good cook, and in his words: "I'm a weird person. i really love to cook, and i really love to do the dishes." so I'm staying out of his way. we have been eating well, and I've been studying while that is going on. so it is a good deal for me. i finished Jesus the Christ! did i say that last week?

i think in a lot of missions there is this 'white Christmas' challenge, where you are supposed to try to get an investigator baptized on Christmas (wearing white clothes). do you remember yoolie? he is the guy that read the book of Mormon twice really in depth, and knows it is all true. a week or two ago we challenged him to be baptized on the 25th, and he said no. we said, will you at least prepare to be baptized? he said no. we said, will you try to prepare? he said maybe. so last night he called and said, I've been thinking about the 25th. i want to be baptized. he has a few questions, but we are going to definitely be working with him hard. obviously it is not yet for sure tochna, but yay!

they are having a Christmas party on the 25th, my ward that is, and we are allowed to go if we have an investigator. so i really want to, i haven't gone to a branch function yet other than Sunday meetings. no, they don't decorate too much for Christmas. maxim, the golden contact said to call January, he will have time then. and sometimes i get the emails from other missionaries, but sometimes there is just a blank email. like this week i didn't get zach's or spencers. and don't worry, Ukrainians make very sure i am dressed warm. I'll try and take those pictures and send them. i don't think about those things when I'm just in the day to day routine. I'll get on it.

by the way, i sent a couple of letters, so if you never get them, then just know that i sent them. it's the thought that counts, right?

thanks for everything, hope all is well, have a holly jolly Christmas, watch lots of Christmas movies for me. the church is true, and Christ is the head of it. and this season is an awesome time to be a christian. love you all!

love, elder brimley

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great week

hey hey hey

what a week. we have been in a threesome, as Richardson went home, so we are working two of the biggest areas in the mission together, it has been pretty tiring. we have had quite a successful week, we have had a lot of fun, and we had the best lesson i can possibly imagine. like i can't possibly imagine a lesson going better than that lesson. both my companions who have been here in Ukraine for over a year said that that lesson was the coolest lesson, with the most legit person, they have seen on their missions. I'll tell you about it if you explain the silly band thing. (The kids keep mentioning silly bands in their emails but won't tell Derek what they are)

anyways, did i tell you that transfer calls happened? i can't remember when that was. well elder prince is leaving petrovski, and I'm staying. elder clarkstone is also staying. I'm really excited to stay because of the new awesome investigator. though he can't meet for the next month as he is very busy- well he said we can try to meet, but after the new year he definitely can. so i almost want to stay a fourth transfer if we really don't meet during December.

i have big plans for my area. I'm trying to convince president to let me move to this other area in petrovskii that will make the work a lot easier. I'll take a picture of my area map and show you, it is huge. i want to move closer to ploshad pabedy, there are way more people, and it is too far away from my apartment, so that side of my area never gets worked, it just takes too long to get over there. also, my apartment is just awful, so it would be cool to move out of the rats nest. I'm trying to get everyone to sneakily convince president- i talked to him about how that area never gets worked, prince talked about how he is happy to get out of the awful apartment, clarkstone said he was going to change the area boundaries, so the apartment is badly placed. we shall see.

we went tracting this one day, and we were looking on the map, deciding where to go, and we see a little village out in the middle of nowhere called "red farm", and we couldn't not go. we find this magical wonderland. well it was really just an enormous green field. like, we couldn't see the end of it. it was the prettiest thing I've seen in a long time. the village was cool too, though everyone was communist. surprise! we met this one old guy and he was, well, very Russian. very communist looking. always a good time. i love little villages like that.

we had a heckler at our English class on Tuesday. he was one of those annoying intellectual guys. he asked a question about English grammar, which we can't really answer. we don't know our own grammar. plus it was a hard question anyways. when we said we didn't know, he was like, yeah, in America you don't really value education. people are all illiterate there and everyone hates learning. we were like, Ukrainians believe you get sick if there is a breeze. he also accused us of being hypocrites because we didn't pray before our English class, to which we responded, that is because your government doesn't let us.

speaking of English, here is the story. in Russia, someone like went to an English class and during the English portion, asked a religious question. the elders answered it, and then there was a huge lawsuit about mixing religion and learning, or something. well, the church nearly lost its charter to be in Russia. we don't have the right to teach English, so it is very complicated to have English "conversational practice". anyways, the Brethren asked us to stop, in case someone is "placed" in one of our classes like that, they are just being careful. it is sad, but whatever. Samara apparently has been doing it for the past year, and they are in the lead for baptisms in the Europe east area this year. more blessings, yay!!

OK. fine. i have to tell this. we got a contact several weeks ago, a guy named maxim. we have been trying to meet with him, because he seemed nice. it finally worked out Saturday night. we got there, started talking, had a good "get to know you" time. we realized that he wasn't like most Ukrainians, he was a family man, really loves his wife, loves showing pictures of his kids. he was really smart, likes history and other interesting stuff. but i figured, yeah, he is a nice guy, but like every other Ukrainian, he hasn't really thought about religion, or he just isn't interested. he just likes to talk to nice American guys. we get into the lesson. we ask the first question: how do you relate to God? he then proceeded to teach US the first lesson. he talked about the need for prophets, how they tell us the will of God. he said that Christ was like a prophet, but also the son of God. he taught us about the atonement. he said that there is a need for modern prophets, because times have changed, there are new ways to sin, there need to be new commandments. he taught us about the great apostasy (he is very smart), comparing it to like medicine, and how germs mutate and stuff. he said he was searching for truth, and that what we taught was exactly what he has been looking for. he was an embodiment of that verse in d and c that says there are people out there looking for our message, who are kept from it only because they don't know where to look. we went out of that lesson and were giddy like little girls. oh man that was awesome.

oh man i have to go. answering questions: sometimes members have TV's on, but it is often in Ukrainian so i especially don't understand. newspapers i don't see. there isn't too much fast food. apparently it will get cold this week, they say it is going to snow. all.

send grandma my love and a hug and kiss. i wish i could be there.

OK i really gotta go. love you!

elder brimley

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making Goals

hey fam, thanks for the letters as usual.

a couple good things happened. we met an interesting guy from the area book, Alexander. he likes our "information". he has been an investigator for years, he has the doctrine and covenants, not too promising or anything. i have found that there is usually a reason missionaries drop people. always good to check, or course, but i haven't seen too much success yet. I'm not surprised. transfers are next Friday. not this one but the next.

though i myself have been spending my time wisely. i have made quite a few awesome lesson plans. i like them a lot, I'm tired of useless lessons with members. just reading one scripture and talking about it then praying. i have been working on using my personal study time to make lesson plans focused on people in the branch we visit often, it is a good study focuser. i have all these ideas, and now they are on paper and i can actually teach something worthwhile. i have also started organizing good, useful scriptures into categories so i can find them and use them easier. I've found some really good stuff, and just getting things organized and in order is cool. my mission has really turned me into this machine. i have so many lists laying around everywhere of things to do, of goals I've made, things to do to achieve my goals. i have completed a lot of those goals i make.

i finished memorizing d and c 4 in Russian, which was much easier than i expected. i am more than half way through one of my grammar books (penguin), it is simple, but very comprehensive. I've learned all the words from it up to the point i am. the eyes of my understanding are constantly being opened. language is fun. I've gotten to a point where i have learned enough words, that the words i am now learning are easier to get down. like, my subconscious must recognize the meaning because I've heard all these words before, just haven't understood them. and i don't know how to describe it, but like sometimes i look at a new word I'm learning and the meaning just makes sense, clicks really fast. i just know a lot of roots and prefixes and suffixes and what not, so the meaning of words just sometimes...yeah, clicks. i have about 550 flashcards, most of them with more than one word on them, so i figure, combined with the words i know from the mtc, and from other situations than flashcards, i probably know around 2000 words.

i can read the book of Mormon in Russian surprisingly well. i started legitimately trying this week, and boom, it is understandable. I'm almost done with first nephi, just reading through, not really trying to pick out words, just reading as if i understood. i think it will help, maybe I'll learn words "from context"- at least that is what they say. i have had several dreams recently that, while i might be mistaken, had at least some Russian in them. i think my subconscious knows the language pretty OK by now. i don't think it is just garbage noise, i have tried paying attention and it seems like it is legit Russian. also, i had a phone conversation all by myself the other day. it was with a member, very simple, and Tanya speaks really fast, and i didn't completely understand, but i was very proud afterward. here is the conversation if i can remember: 'allo?' 'privyet.' 'how are you?' 'good, and you?' 'good. have you been reading the book of Mormon?' 'no, I've been busy. and i can't come to church tomorrow. i might have time later this week to read, and maybe next week I'll come to church.' 'it is a shame.' 'well just wanted to say goodnight.' 'OK. goodnight.' cool, huh?!

we had a good zone conference this week. lots of great ideas and stuff to think about. sister fry gave a cool presentation about our identities, that probably sounds lame but it was legit. president fry spoke a lot too, obviously that was great. oh man there was a testimony section at the end, mostly for the missionaries who are leaving to give their last testimony. i felt the spirit stronger than i have in a long, long time. and it wasn't from anything anyone said, it is a completely uncontrollable, indescribable feeling of the spirit. every time i feel it i realize that i want to feel that more. i want to be able to bring that into lessons, because if i could get people to feel that spirit i felt there, that is all it would take. oh gosh it was strong. we have a lot of really legit missionaries here. a lot of champs i hope i get to serve with one day.

I've never really longed for home until this week. it happens when there is nothing else good to focus on. i try and focus on the language, on lessons we are going to have, on studying scriptures, pmg, Jesus the Christ, but i cant do that all day. five months tomorrow.

anyways, i have decided to redouble my efforts next transfer. work is how i get out of slumps. here are some of my goals for the next transfer: finish reading penguin and know every word in it. memorize something from pmg, scriptures, my TALL book, each week. know every word in the "other" section in my TALL book. memorize a poem from my sila book. finish the book of Mormon in Russian. and understand when people talk to me. i think it should be a busy transfer. OH plus be a missionary once in a while, that is a goal.

oh before i forget, my greetings to zach and lane. to lane: (Zach and Lane's moms asked Derek to write something to them for a Christmas package.)

Dear lane, merry Christmas. this is a Christmas package right? anyways, i hope you are having a fabulous time in Chile. i bet by now you can speak Spanish! congratulations. I'm sure you have been working your tail off over there, i'm proud of you. i wish i heard more from you somehow, i want to know what you are up to. send me a letter or something sometime. remember when we worked at that golf course for a summer, and every day we would watch all those day time judge shows at your house and eat quesadillos? those were good times. do you eat quesadillos down there? did i spell quesadillos right? well i hope all is well. things are well with me. i know our work is the work of God. i know Joseph smith saw God and Jesus Christ. I'll see you in a couple years. love, elder Brimley

Dear zach, just so you know i print your letters out every week so i can read them on p-days. i love hearing what you are up to. sounds like an awesome country. oh merry Christmas! my zone leader had to spend a week or so in your mission because he got bit by a dog here. have you heard of that? well he got a lot of good ideas from your mission, it sounds like. is it true that you do "power statements" to contact? and do you use a calendar? with investigators. we have implemented a few of them to great success. i was thinking about our movies the other day, man, they were sweet. I'm excited to make movies when we get back, we can have Russian, Spanish, and German in them! maybe a little bit of Ukrainian as well. and English. anyways, i have a testimony of the church, the book of Mormon and Joseph smith. i know that the priesthood is real, that the power of god is real, and it is on the earth today. i know that we are messengers of truth. have a good mission, moy droog. love, elder brimley

(end friend letters)

i gotta go. i know the holy ghost is real, and we become converted through its witnessing power. i have felt it very strongly a few times on my mission already, and i know it is not some made up emotion or feeling, but a real, legitimate power.

y'all have a good week.

love, elder Brimley.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm not superman, you know

Dear family and friends,

whoa, whoa whoa. first i want to write thank you all for the support, i'm glad to know you are rooting for me back home, it is good to hear i'm not alone.

some questions that i've been meaning to ask: i know i've asked this before, and i don't know why i don't know, but where is our ancestry from? people ask me that all the time here, and i never know what to say. usually i just say utah, or europe.

onto the week...
well we fixed the shower, now it is... well it works better now. that is a relief, though i had gotten used to the old one so it wasn't so bad, plus our hazaika decided she wasn't going to pay for it. we shall see. on monday, a bankomat ate my mission credit card, right when i was taking out the money for the month. it is all figured out now, but that was super annoying for a few days, my companion had to pay for everything for me.

tuesday "they" turned off our gas. we were making borsch, when we realized the stove wasn't turning on. so all that stuff was ruined, really frustrating when, you know, we wanted to eat food. we ate a lot of cereal. no worries though, our landlady came and fixed it on thursday.

wednesday we were calling some former investigators, and this ira lady said sure, we could come over, as long as we came before her family got home. so we hurried and went over and had a good lesson during our regular study time. she was a really nice, fun lady, we had a good spiritual lesson, talked about the restoration and jo smith and his gold bible, and left. she is cool, but yeah, super protiv family, which is the reason a lot of people can't get baptised around here. but it was cool, we had a lesson with a non member, they are pretty rare. oh, wednesday was also the day that my companion read the first harry potter in russian. quite an accomplishment.

thursday was one of those days that everything we planned fell through. but that night we contacted a little bit, and we found a couple of really cool people. we have been concentrating on finding people to teach, out of the area book and from our own efforts, and we found that night two really legit people. the first was this french black guy, he seemed kind of interested. he speaks french, german, russian, ukrainian, and really good english, which is good for me. he said we could meet any time, so we will be. black people get baptized a lot here, by the way. i was surprised when i found that out. they are all really great people. then we found this other guy that night, he said he had met with mormons like fifteen years ago, when he was fifteen. now he has a wife and kids, and he said he wanted to meet with us this saturday. he was real friendly, joking around with us. so we will probably baptise him too. plus we found some other contacts that we will meet with and baptise. this area is changing, i can feel it.

friday we had a meeting with tanya, a recent convert/ inactive member. she is like 20 or so, really nice girl, but very open with us that she doesn't have a testimony. so we have been focusing on her, she seems to really want to develop this testimony thing. we made her a calendar, with like a chapter from the book of mormon every night, and at the end of the month is her "dyen svidetelstva" or day of testimony, where by that date or before, she will know the book of mormon is true, if she has followed the calander. i think she will, i hope she will. i would like to see her come to church. there are too many inactives here. like our ward list has hundreds of people on it, only a fraction come to church. i'll reactivate them. well, most of them. i'm not superman, you know.

saturday was interesting. i was on a split with clarkstone. there was a baptism of the branch president's daughter. it was... different. they don't have too much of a concept of reverence here. kids were running around and lots of talking the whole time. and he said the prayer wrong the first time, but no one said anything until they had almost completely drained the font. he redid it right, but the water was like up to his shins, and she wouldn't go under. after a few tries it worked out, but everyone was watching and laughing and being loud, it was, yeah, different.
then there was this "open house" thing, they made us stay the whole time in case anyone came. but like one or two people did, and we didn't really talk to them, members showed them around. so saturday was unfortunate, but nothing anyone could really do about it. we went to the lavriks, a really cool member family at night, which is always a blast. they are sooooo cool.

sunday was great. we had a meeting with another former investigator, yoolie. he is probably the coolest person i have met in ukraine. he was showing us his notes on the book of mormon (he has read it twice), he said he loves it, studies it hard core. at one point in his notes it says (in english (he is an english teacher)): "nephi definitely saw a vision of the end of the world, but refrained from writing about it, as that was the stewardship of john the revelator". his wife was very cold, which is the only reason he isn't a member. his son was like ten or so, and he said he really wants him to be a member of our church. he showed us ancient artifacts of an old city that he found when he was diving in the black sea, he said they are like 3000 years old or somehtng. he has a sweet collection of lots of history books, i was really jealous.

so we have found a few people willing to meet with us, and some of them we will baptise. for now, i'm just happy to have people to associate with other than members. i just feel more like a missionary when i do that.

the weather is pretty chilly, though not too bad. people are obsessed with the weather here. i haven't been wearing my coat, as it is much too warm. people, even like punk rebyatta on the street are always mentioning to me that i'm going to fall ill. everyone believes that disease comes from breezes. i guess i shouldnt make fun of their weird beliefs, but i'm not going to wear a coat if its not cold. "if your mother could see you..." "what are you doing out here naked?!" i don't understand it much, so i don't mind the babooshkie reprimanding me.

for the package i think i mentioned like cake mixes, brownie mixes, other sort of delicious mixes. that's all i can think of.

by the way, i always read everyones emails to me, usually i print them out so i can read them more in depth later. i am going to personally reply to all of them today, and if i run out of time i'll print them out and reply next week. don't kid yourselves-i live for your weekly emails, honestly they keep me going through the week.

and yeah, i'll try to write something for lane and zach in my next email, i don't know what i would write yet, but i'll think about it.
do you have the conference issue of the liahona yet? we don't get it for a few months, so i've been printing off the talks from lds org. they are so good! i recommend reading them, so good.

thanks for the updates about grandma's, they have been in my prayers and will be. send them my love and gratitude.

anyways, love you all. i really do. once in a while i remember home and it hurts. so i try not to think about it too much, ha ha. our family is so awesome! oh man i love it. and i love being a missionary, speaking russian, making people's lives better, serving God. i know it is the work of God here.

Love, elder brimley

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1, 2010


Firstly, thanks to the Pews for the awesome letter, always awesome to get a letter. and thanks to Alice Rogers from Australia, i didn't realize i had an international audience. and no, i never went to efy, but that's cool you are some sort of leader there. I'll try and write a letter back, but i don't have too much time.

This was an interesting week. not the happiest week of my life, not the funnest (most fun?) either. I still don't understand Russian, and i especially can't speak it. I still only have one really flaky investigator, and I'm still really really frustrated with everything. but i gained a hard testimony this week that really hard work is a soothing pain killer. I was with Richardson until Friday morning, and we just worked. every night we just laid there and just had no energy to do anything. we talked to so many people, tracted so much, we filled the days to the brim. and we met some really legit, awesome people. like the first day, we met this guy with cows. did i tell you about him? Well we went to him later, brought him some brownies. Then the day after that we found him in this field, just kind of watching these cows. (we asked him, they aren't his cows. they are some policeman's cows, and they don't milk, and they aren't for meat. they are just cows.) anyways, we had a legit first lesson with him, and he said we could come back. it was really cold just sitting in some field, plus it was just really cold in general. probably the coldest day here so far. he was just an awesome guy.

So Monday was cool, we went book shopping, as Richardson is soon leaving. he got some good ones, the classics, you know. we were sitting waiting for a bus with the books, and these old guys come up and ask if that is Dostoevsky. why yes, it is. they really respect their authors here, so we talked about books a little, then why we were here, then that is a nice easy way into teaching the first lesson. so we did, well a short one, gave them a book of Mormon. i should carry classic books around i guess.

Tuesday for English we carved pumpkins! they don't really have good pumpkins here, but we made it work. there were like five students there, they really liked it. i think i sent a picture of them. it felt like home, i had the song "Five Little Pumpkins" stuck in my head the whole time.

Wednesday just blurred by, i don't remember what we did. one thing was this crazy old guy we talked to. well he wasn't really crazy, but he kind of was. he was just funny to listen to. he really liked us and told us we could come back. he just got off on tangents and asked how to spell my name. i told him, and he took out a colored pencil and wrote it on his tree.

Thursday was our last day together, Richardson and I. We worked during the day, things mostly didn't work out. we were a little bummed by the end, but we had a few hours left to do something. We decided to tract, so we pulled out the map and Richardson saw a street and instantly knew that it was the right street. So we set off. we started knocking on doors, most people didn't answer, and the ones that did weren't interested. It didn't feel right, so we skipped ahead a few houses. we got to this one, and knocked on it. a guy walks out and we start talking about the restoration, and he seems legitimately interested. we give him a book of Mormon, he asks all the right questions, we answer them, he says we can come back and talk some more. Afterward we both just knew, that was the guy we were supposed to talk to on that street. it is cool following the spirit. it really does lead to miracles.

Friday morning we picked up our companions, and went home. prince said he was tired from his vacation in Bulgaria (he said it was the best three days of his mission, which i think is a little pathetic), so we stayed inside for a while, he took a nap. Saturday I had a good plan to go see some contacts, try to meet with a former investigator, and have a couple member lessons (I'm trying to compromise). I was ready to go at eleven, waiting at the door, and prince tells me he feels a little dizzy and he is going to lay down for a bit. he then takes a SEVEN HOUR NAP. we didn't leave the apartment on Saturday.

Sunday was...well... for the third hour it was combined men and women, with the four of us teaching. each of us had a little part to give, so yeah. i gave my part. i didn't have much time to prepare, like thirty minutes maybe, and I didn't have a dictionary with me, so it definitely wasn't perfect, but of course it wasn't going to be perfect. Lena did come up to me and say ti maladyets (it was a good job), so it was at least panyatna. (understandable)

after church I wanted to get to work, find some new investigators, or at least some people to talk to. instead prince took off his pants and took another nap. I guess its good, I've had lots of time to study Russian. just, I can't study for that long in a row, I get bored and zone out. I feel so unproductive. apparently this happens "every couple of weeks"- where he doesn't feel good enough to work, I guess. I've been trying really hard to maybe get him excited, help him be better, talk to him about things I want to do, but nothing. I don't know. like, he told me that he "never wants to tract or contact" this transfer, just have meetings with members. and I said I don't ever want to have a meeting with members unless we have to, as it says in the white handbook and preach my gospel. but I said, we should compromise and do some of both. unfortunately, we have done neither so far. he is dead, he is killing me. anyways, enough about that, because I'm not a complainer.

No, I haven't been sick. I feel very well actually. I haven't gotten gloves or a hat yet. annoyingly, Monday is like Ukrainians day off, so it is hard to buy stuff on p-days. Yes I have time to read all of your emails. I mean, there's only two of them. I'm a bit hungry right now, though I made myself a delicious breakfast this morning, fried potatoes, with a bunch of spicy stuff on them, and ketchup. and of course I enjoyed the candy, though unfortunately it is all gone now.

I can't help but feel I've left something out. I left my little outline back at the apartment, stupid me.

why didn't any of the siblings write me? They have been doing pretty good for the past few weeks.

Anyways, thanks for all the love and support, as always. I know the spirit is real and leads us to right. So follow it.

love, elderek brimley. (it's been a while)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oct 25, 2010


things are well.

investigators. we had two. one of them dropped this week, and the other is an old babooshka that i want to drop. needless to say, i am trying hard to find some new people. it... its just hard. if i had my say, we would contact and tract until we found someone to teach, but I'm not allowed to do that. this week was good though, i pretty much am senior companion, because of common sense. i have been using the area book a lot, finding old investigators and trying to contact them, meet with them and stuff. the problem is, is that i don't speak Russian, so i can't set up lessons, or teach lessons for that matter. so all this stuff i want to do, i feel like I'm just making my companion do it all. i pulled out like 20 old progress records that i want to contact, and i feel like I'm just delegating a lot of work to my comp. but oh well, we have had a couple lessons with them, which is something i have rarely seen, lessons with non members. nothing came out of them, but i at least feel like I'm doing my best.

like, my numbers have gone down, but i feel much better about my routine, schedule, it feels more real, less like I'm just pulling good numbers out of the members. and my companion comes home and falls immediately to sleep because we work so hard.

I'm doing better generally, I feel. I talk to more people on the streets, try and add to lessons, being more obedient generally. its a good feeling, though I'm really really tired.

right now I'm on a split with elder Richardson. I feel like he is my companion, its weird. his and my comps are in Bulgaria, well, will be tomorrow. so that's cool, we get along well, work really hard together. and he speaks really good Russian. like, best in the mission Russian. which is good for me, hopefully i soak some in. we set one really specific goal for our time together, a really far out there goal, I'm really excited to see it fulfilled. we are working really hard!

how do Ukrainians feel about Americans... i don't really know, i don't understand enough to try and figure that out yet. depends on the person i guess. like this one guy we tried to talk to didn't, said we stole Alaska, we blankety blanked his country, and now we are blankety blanking Ukraine. but those who aren't drunk usually think America is cool. the longer i stay here, the more awesome America seems. with Richardson, we talk about food that he is going to eat in America a lot. he goes home in like three weeks. there is so much good food in America! it is an amazing place. I'm really hungry right now, that doesn't help.

we take public transportation everywhere we go. it is like 12 cents a ride, one grivin. and no, i still need to koopit shapka and some gloves, then i will be complete.

me and Richardson have met some really cool people contacting. like, i don't know them and cant really understand them, but with those people who listen to us, i can just feel it when they are a legit contact. this one older guy was walking with his seven cows across the street, we stopped and talked to him, he said we could come back. i don't know how to describe it, he was just so AWESOME. then there was this other lady who was cool, we asked her how she thought about god, she said "ochen xorowo." she was joking around and laughing with us, thought the restoration was a really interesting idea, said we could come back. i guess it is because most people aren't interested, so just a little interest is enough to excite us, but i don't know. they are awesome.

then the members here, i could go on forever about how awesome they are. they are saints. we visited this one little family, they are just so humble and nice. just... people aren't like that. so it is awesome to have a chat with them, just normal, friendly people. ahhhh, they are so cool. people are the most interesting thing in the world.

thanks for the letters. oh, answer this: what are these "silly bands" you keep mentioning? shto takoy? good to hear the family news, I'm sorry about grandma Brimley and Bradshaw! i had no idea about grandma Bradshaw. i will pray for both, i wish there was anything i could do. send my love, i guess.

what else to write... I'm out. I'm trying to keep my emails repetition free.

ladna. vi have a good week. I'm going to. i know the church is true, and that god blesses us for making goals and working to reach them. i know he loves us and answers on our prayers. i gain a testimony of the

love Derek Brimley

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18, 2010

ahoy mateys

from the emails it sounds like everyone likes my emails, which is good. i was thinking i was being a little "too honest". but i guess I'll keep that up. i would never want to be that guy.

Nicole: i forgot to answer a couple questions from your last email. no, i don't think many people know my first name. and yeah! get Garrett to come to Ukraine, it is great here. but no, don't expect what you saw in that special. Kiev looked really really nice (though we didn't see an hour long thing on Ukraine, just the "news around the world" thing). on second thought, you probably shouldn't come. 5 years would be a long time here. and sorry, i can't remember anything about Metaphors: Russian has taken over the whole of my brain. and pictures take a long time to send on this slow computer, and i don't have time to waste. no, i don't really miss school, i still feel like I'm in it. i study 3 hours a day, 1 hour being Russian, then study whenever else i can Russian as well. sorry, no Halloween here. in fact, no youth activities. i don't know if we are allowed to go to branch activities, but so far we've had none.

that's one of the special rules of the mission. president has really cracked down on stupid stuff that used to happen here, and has banned a lot of things, like youth nights, sports nights. no card playing, no cultural events (unless approved by the Fry's). service activities also must be approved by the ap's. people complain a lot about the rules, but whatever. it sounded like something had to be done, and i fully support my leaders here. oh, we are supposed to be home by 9, 9:30, but it gets pretty dark by 6, and getting worse.

so the week was pretty interesting. actually i consider it easily the best week so far of my mission. Monday i dropped off Mueller at the office, for Bulgaria, and met my zl's. (side note: Bulgaria sounded like the greatest thing ever. they ate at subway 3 times, pizza hut, Chinese food, lots of junk food, burger king, that's all they did is eat the whole time. one more year...) but my split with clarkstone and Richardson was awesome. the days went really fast. we taught a lot, they let (made?) me talk a lot. we got to be pretty good friends. like, we made some American brownies and gave them to people (everyone was amazed and asked for the recipe). it was just fun, i felt like a missionary, making people happy. we met with this babooshka member and in the middle of the lesson, Richardson says something like "as we all know, sooner or later, the earth will transmorph into a urim and thummim and become the celestial kingdom." it was funny, we had been talking before about stuff you don't say during lessons, stuff that is too deep. right after he said it he freaked out laughing, we all did, we were so surprised. the babooshka was like, da, da kaneshna. i think it flew over her head. just really fun guys, really good lessons, we have become pretty good friends, which is nice. it was an awesome week.

then Friday was crazy. we went and picked up Mueller, came home and packed, then transfer meeting. it was a big one. oh i saw elder Hansen, he is in gorlovka now. elder Mueller is now in loogansk. which is meaningless to both you and i.

my new companion is elder prince. we get along fine, i can get along with anyone. he is...I'd say an improvement. it's interesting, his last companion was elder Mendoza (Derek's MTC companion), it is nice hearing stories about him.

its cool, since i know the area and people a little bit, I'm kind of in charge. so we've done a lot of stuff "my way", we had a real planning session, made some real goals, used the area book for the first time, figured out the kind of companionship it is going to be. i think i have become a more controlling person since I've been here. there are just too many people unwilling to make a decision and do something. and it isn't that hard to get stuff done, it just takes doing it. so I'm going to get stuff done, work hard, tagdally.

he keeps telling me i have really good Russian (for my second transfer) and good study habits in general. though this is after he was companions with Mendoza. but I'm proud, i use my time wisely, no matter the companion. he is the type of person who will study if his comp is studying, and with Mendoza he didn't. so it should be good. and I'm proud of my Russian slash study skills.

some general stuff: the weather actually warmed up a bit this week. though from what everyone says, this is supposed to be "the coldest winter in 100 years." so that is exciting. luckily the heat in our apartment is turned on finally. mom asked when and where i shop. there is a store called objhora (=glutton) right next to my dome, we go there once a week or so, or when we want fresh bread. there is a store here called AMCTOP, which is awesome, almost as good as our walmart. we got some better milk, though it is still pretty bad. but i finally had some chocolate pillows (its a cereal, mmm delicious.)

my weekly language update- its still hard, obviously. understanding is easier than speaking, though when they speak fast it is still impossible. sometimes. i can read the ensign and have a good idea of what is going on. but when they speak, i can't remember words fast enough to produce a meaningful idea in my head. i study hard every day, try to understand really hard, and say what i can. I'm eventually going to dominate this language. but that day is not this day.

i love personal study still. you'd think I'd get bored. I'm half way through Jesus the Christ, and I'm in the acts in the new testament. the books are incredible. after 4 months (oh yeah, 1/6th done) i still learn every day.

I've made friends! lena is really awesome. have i talked about her? she is kind of a babooshka, technically, but she looks... not like a babooshka. she is serving a mission soon, and is very fun to talk to (or try to talk to). i forgot to mention i gave my first blessing to her a few weeks ago. well i read the russian on the paper, to give the first part of the blessing. it was a cool experience. my other friend is jhenya, though she is younger so talks super fast. it is good to have friends, i can't wait until i can communicate with them!

mcdonalds is weird, their whole menu is secretly in english, just with russian (well ukrainian) lettering. so ordering things, i usually just say stuff in english, because i feel retarded using some weird accent, but then they don't understand. its pretty funny. and of course, delicious.

sad again to hear about grandma brimley, i have definitely kept her in my prayers this week. i don't know if she reads these, so i'll send an email to her this week. and i was sad to hear about sister wicks! that was shocking, i had no idea.

oh by the way mom, don't worry, the coffee and tea are mojhna. we drink them all the time here, i'm actually a really big fan. there is this one mint tea that is mmmm soo good. and the coffee has grown on me.

about the christmas package... a lot of the things i really would like are unsendable, like lettuce. one thing i thought of was more pictures of the fam. maybe baby pictures of everyone? i think that would be fun to show people. especially the sumo anna picture! prince has a cd player and some cd's, so we are good on that front. i think some of those christmas cookies, the ones you get out of a like cylinder thing, they are really good, you know the ones. that could be cool. i like the idea of getting stuff to give the kids here, but i can't think of anything. mueller had some jelly bellies that kids loved, but i don't want jelly bellies. so yeah, i don't know what i want for christmas as usual. the stuff i wrote last time i still would like. i dunno.

ok i'm done, thanks for everything, thanks for that last package, the emails and stuff, church is true, ukraine is awesome, i've got to write my email to my president, so goodbye!

c yprojhneniem? sic? elder brimley

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's getting cold in Ukraine

Dearest people who read my emails,

It has gotten rather cold. not sooo bad, but cold enough to warrant buying the coolest coat I've ever owned. I will try to send a picture if I have time. It is warm and very ukrainian, with fur on the inside and I feel like a Russian fighter pilot. I just need a big ol shapka and a mug of beer now. unfortunately "they" haven't turned on our apartment heat, so it has been quite uncomfortable in the mornings, and very hard to get out of bed. luckily the shower is still warm, so that gives me several minutes of warmth. the real problem is that our "balcony" has a window that won't close, so the whole night cold air seeps in. the weather has been very fun this week actually. lots of rain, that keeps the streets/ "sidewalks"/ paths very muddy, so all of my pants are pretty muddy. and my shoes are just bad, I feel bad bringing in the dirt into people's houses. but it's all good, I'm not too cold. yet. soon enough, they say.

I have made a couple of friends in the ward, one is an older woman named lena, she is way cool. she has her papers in to serve a mission. and zhenia, she is like 24 and a single mother of two crazy boys, we are friends too. it is hard to call people friends when you cant really talk to them, let alone develop a relationship. but they are nice and fun to be around anyways. the branch is huge, one of the biggest in Ukraine, we get over 100 people to come sometimes. we tried really hard to get our investigator Loodmilla to church this week, but it didn't happen. it is incredible how controlled these people are by the weather. it starts raining and they just stop everything, don't expect us to come over, don't come to church. apparently winters are hard here. but yeah, great branch, they tell me not to take it for granted and to not die when i see my next branch.

oh! we got a transfer call on Friday, mueller is out. so this next Friday I get my new companion, we are both very excited. It was para to him. tomorrow he leaves for Bulgaria for his visa, and i am with the zone leaders (clarkstone and richardson) who are in my district. until Thursday sometime, so this should be a fun week. he is lucky, he has all this stuff planned to eat in Bulgaria. apparently they have a subway, Chinese food, dominos, lots of American food that we lack here.

which reminds me, for the Christmas package, some thoughts. some pumpkin stuff would be cool, they dont have pumpkin pie here. or pies in general actually. maybe some good motab cd? like a Christmas one, or there is one with that lotr song on it. ranch dressing? some good spices, some stuff to make good sauces, like spaghetti sauces and stuff. maybe some frosting. I wish you could send me some milk! I used to love to drink milk. maybe some peach jam or something? oh man there is so much stuff i want and now I cant remember! i will try to make a list this week and send it to you.

and THAT reminds me, I got your package today! it came when I was in the office, just today. so that was really quick. they say it takes longer during the Christmas season though, so i don't know when you want to send the next one. thanks so much for the package! I haven't opened it yet, but I like the "specific details" box wherin is written: candy. I'm excited. thanks again!

so I think last...I can't remember the day. it was a pretty normal day, but a couple things happened that i remember. we were at a lesson with lydmilla, and her son was there. he was fairly plastered drunk, he fell on me and was having trouble walking. he was also hitting on the babooshka member we brought, which was weird. I guess he is like forty or so. his mom, the other babooshka, and my companion laughed. then later we had a meeting with a member who brought a drunk old lady off the street, to I suppose help her find Christ. we talked a little bit to her, but she kept muttering weird stuff and talking to the cat. she also kind of plead with us to help her, please, I need help. then we would say anything and she would say we were young and don't know anything. then she left. i dunno, seeing old or older people that drunk isn't really funny anymore. It is pathetic and sad. they just don't have any control over themselves. its like... a theme here. helplessness, i guess.

lydmilla said she definitely wants to be baptized. so that was really cool, we still haven't taught her any of the commandments, which may or may not be a drawback. No, i think she knows the word of wisdom. I'm just afraid of tithing. not afraid, but i just can see that being really really hard here. ten percent is easy in America, it's hard here.

On a VERY good note, we, or may I say, I, cleaned the apartment for apartment checks. I swept for like 2 hours in that little place. it hasn't been seriously cleaned for several months, I could tell. I wouldn't say it looks "good" now, but looche. our apartment is just so bad. the light switch stopped working, so we can't turn on the light in our room really. the power keeps turning off randomly, and we can turn it back on by pushing a buttun, but it wont stay pressed, if that makes sense. I'm going to talk to our hazaika. somethings gotta give.

did you open the package I sent? I had some letters in there for people. i can't remember if you said you did or didn't. but mozhna otkrivat.

went on a good split with my district leader, elder clarkstone, on Saturday. we did a lot, some tracting, a couple of meetings with a member babooshka, and a family, the lavriks. we talked to the babooshka about talking to her friends about seeing the missionaries, and we have a goal for her to invite some people by saturday, which should be cool. the lavricks are the coolest family, lots of kids, all fun, happy, talkative. I felt like i was in Utah. just couldn't understand them. ladna. though I did learn from the split. I have a lot of bad habits I've developed that need to change next transfer. like using the area book. and... well a lot. I hope my next companion is ready for it. but ready or not, I'm going to work hard.

thanks for the email nicorn, nice and long and juicy. here are some answers: language is the same. I'm learning 40 new words in the next few days, they are awesome words too. I miss about home...oh man. America is so awesome. and Utah is even... it is just a friendly place. Ukraine is just a poorly made country. America did it right. i miss friendly people who i can understand. I can't say I really miss home though, Ukraine is way too awesome. and no, it isn't that weird not watching TV, listening to music, internet, books. oh books, I do miss books. my comp bought a huge book with lord of the rings, the hobbit, and the silmarillion or whatever, all in it, all in russian. he said he couldn't read it very well. it was the coolest thing I've ever seen. I really really miss books.

Ukrainian food is great. I really like sharmas, though we don't really know what they are made of. we always drink a nice big coke to kill anything that we eat, don't worry mom. ha! they say they are made of dog, but I think that is mostly a joke. they have a lot of vegetables. just all chopped up and mixed together, like a really thick salsa. often they just have that, mixed with some of this other not very tasty stuff. and it ends up OK. I'm getting used to it more. I really like the tea and coffee (I'm sure this is some sort of Ukrainian herbal coffee), we drink that all the time. mint tea is my favorite, ochen fkysnie.

sad to hear about grandma Brimley! keep me updated, obviously. I will keep you in my prayers, grandma! good luck!

well thanks for all the emails and letters, and prayers and fsyo. shastlivwie vam!

star E A shna brimley

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ukrainians explained

Dear everybody,

May I be the first cliche missionary to say, conference was the coolest thing i've ever seen. man, oh man. i have never enjoyed it so much. i guess i sound like ever other elder, but it was incredible. we watched the saturday morning and sunday morning sessions live, seven pm on saturday and sunday. and priesthood and saturday afternoon we watched sunday. we had some technical difficulties, so we ended up staying in the room for about 11 hours straight, but it was alright. the news from around the world was cool too, good to see the kiev temple. it seems that everyone speaks english there (Kiev), lucky. but man, conference! a couple of themes: big on agency and choices. there were several talks focused on that, which was interesting. then obviously following our living prophet, a couple talks on that. plus every single talk seemed to mention something about following the prophet. and another theme was gratitude, Holland and president Monson both talked about that. Holland's was very interesting, i liked it a lot. and uchtdorf's was awesome as well. actually they were all just amazing. i could go on for a while so i'll stop.

oh, about my scriptures. they had an extra quad, like brand new, just laying around, so they gave it to me. a miracle, obviously.

Not too much of note concerning missionary work, i don't see much progress, at least that i can see. like, we had one meeting with an investigator this week. and the rest of our meetings were with members. and our investigator has been investigating for a while, and she just doesn't get it. we go over the apostasy every time, over and over and over it. and every time, she asks the same question: why do i need to be baptized again? and we explain again. ludmilla doesn't help. i think i told you about her. we had a lesson just with her a few days ago, and basically told her not to talk anymore in our lessons, that she could bear her testimony once per lesson. i think she got it, and hopefully that helps us actually teach the gospel in the future.

it started to rain hard on Thursday. we didn't have umbrellas, so we decided to go home. just getting to the bus, we got completely soaked. drenched, and it was cold. after we go for a while on the bus, it stops, and kicks us off. they do that once in a while. so we had to walk a couple miles back home. the rain was hard, but the worst part was that, as there is no real drainage system obviously, it all just puddles. cars were driving through huge puddles, splashing everybody, it was funny. it was nuts, really. we still haven't bought umbrellas for some reason. i keep bringing it up, and we don't.

It got cold fast. and i only have this stupid, huge, but thin coat. i keep mentioning that we need to go get me some winter clothes, and he keeps... not doing it. it's cold and getting colder fast. though I'm really loving it, it feels like the real deal.

i can't believe a month has passed. it went so much faster than months in the mtc. this is my last full week with my companion. he goes to Bulgaria (for his visa) next Tuesday, to Thursday or Friday i think. then Friday is transfer meeting. at least we think he will be transferred, or he hopes. i am sure he will die if he doesn't. he is so sick of this place. 6 months is a long time for one area. i hope he doesn't stay, he will just get worse.

one question i have been asked a few times is what the biggest difference is between here and America. there are a lot. but the biggest one i see is the people. i guess people, deep down, are probably all the same, or at least closer. but these people on the surface are very different. one thing I've noticed is the different groups here are much more vivid. obviously there are lots of different types of people, but much less so, it seems. there are basically 5 different types of people:

The Babooshkie. all Ukrainian women seem to end up the same, physically and mentally. they are very short, wear old, plain clothes, a bandanna on their heads, a jacket. they have very wrinkly faces, and lots of facial hair. sometimes they are bald. they are generally very superstitious, as this one lady on a bus a few days ago. she shut all the windows, yelling about how the draft will get us all sick. she huddled in a corner to protect herself. they worry about the cold floor, or cold water, because that too causes disease. they always carry around big old bags, heaven knows what for.

The Dedooshkie: the old man. has a classic soviet hat on, along with a look of desperation. usually with a bottle in hand, and at least a little drunk. from what I've seen, old men are not nearly as distinct as old women. but they all are quite similar.

devooshkie: the 10-30 year old girl. they wear very tight clothing, often a short mini skirt and a see through shirt. very fond of smoking. often when people talk to us, they mention to us how great Ukrainian women are, and how easy they are, if you get them drunk. oh and all of them, no matter the occasion, wear high heels. i don't know how.

malchickie: the young, hip dude. again, less distinct than their female counterparts, but i have found some basic patterns. usually travels in groups. think they are really tough, love to drink and smoke and fight to prove it. to look cool in front of their friends they often say "hello" or "hello, Americans" in English, to make fun and subtly mock us. i have tried to turn that into inviting them to English practice, but my companion usually stops me. also popular are English swear words.

the drunk: this makes up a good enough portion of the population. i don't actually mind them too much. they are the only people (except for the occasional crazy babooshka who tells us we are beautiful) who come up to us and talk. i again see a strange pattern. one guy comes up and talks to us, friendly or not. then his slightly less drunk friend comes up to him and tells him to stop talking to us. the other tells him to go away, and the friend then comes to us and apologizes profusely for how drunk his friend is. they aren't the brightest bunch, but they are generally friendlier than the average Ukrainian. we have made friends with a couple of them, who still stop and chat occasionally.

these are generalities, but here it seems that social rules are a bit stricter. people stay in their place more. that said, there are lots of awesome exceptions i have met, many of them members of the church. some other general things I've noticed is they are very honest. like the way they pay the bus driver is by just passing money up to the front. it would be pretty easy i think to take some, or take some change on it's way back to each person. but it doesn't seem to happen much. another thing i heard that seems about right is that Americans are peaches. softies, emotional sometimes, touchy, but with a really solid core. and Ukrainians are like coconuts. really hard on the outside, cruel even. but on the inside they are softies too.

to answer questions... i don't know how much money i have in my account, so hopefully i will be able to buy some winter clothes soon. maybe you should check? me and mueller are working fine, getting along, just not very successful. i feel safe, for the most part. a few days ago we were walking down a lane, and some dogs came out to greet us. everyone has a dog to protect their house, but usually they are chained up. these ones weren't. they followed us for a while, once in a while would try to get us, but when we turned around they backed off. but ludmilla didn't turn fast enough one time, and it got her sock, ripped a big hole in it. dogs are cool.

language...not much progress, I'm still learning words every day, but yeah, pretty much the same as usual. so i guess, yes, the language is "coming".

one of your questions was funny, last week, about if the stake center was showing conference. its just, there is no stake here in the mission, so stake centers are hard to come by. also the question about ym/yw. there aren't enough youth in the branch to have something like that. there are probably three, one boy and two girls, who would be the right age for that. its hard to be a member here. and we have an awesome branch, and an awesome branch building. it is close to my dome.

we have an hour to write, which is good, though still the quickest hour of the week. though gen. conference was quick too. we have to be in by 9:00, or 9:30, but usually we go home earlier. it gets dark at like 6. i suggested doing language study at night, to utilize the day time, but my comp said no. so lots of times we go home by 8, 8:30. sigh. we shop about once a week, though when we need something the store is really close, so it works. we live basically inside of a reenik.

i can't think of anything else to write, and I'm running low on time, so just one last thing: taking a hint from president monson and elder Holland...

Anna: thanks for fredward, all the letters and emails, all the stories you tell, and for always being happy and hilarious.

Nate: thanks for being fun, crazy, and of course awesome. i met a Ukrainian kid the other day who looks and acts just like you and i missed you hard.

Alex: thanks for all of your funny one liners, like the tomato tornado thing, thanks for all the letters you have sent me, thanks for the great example you are to me and the rest of us.

Scott: thanks for diaper bus, donkey slave, and being pretty much an exact copy of me. when i show people photos, they always point you out and think it is me. thanks for being a great bro.

Nicole (and gman): thanks for all of the awesome conversations, the advice and the books, thanks for being an older sister i could look up to and follow.

mom: thanks for every meal, every load of laundry, every book you read to me to teach me to read (or teach me how to teach myself, ha ha), for staying firm in our standards and keeping me firm as well.

dad: thanks for winning the bread, even if it probably hasn't always been fun or easy, for coaching my teams, and for teaching me by example what i want to become.

oh and thanks everyone else, but I'm out of time. love you all.

Love, Elder Brimley

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Drunk from Tea?

Dear Everyone,

It's weird to think that it is like three am or something in your world. the day is like half way done here. cool though. time is confusing.

we were trying to figure out that, what with general conference and such. we don't know exactly how it's going to work. we are apparently going to watch Saturday morning's session live, like at 7 pm here. then Sunday we are watching like three sessions, or something. no one is really sure. I've never been actually excited to watch general conference before. all twelve apostles are talking to us! plus the first presidency! this is this best two days of the half year! i hope you all watch and learn. i wish i would have taken them more seriously. I've been reading old ensigns, the talks are so awesome! we are all really pumped over here.

oh, thanks for all the emails everybody. its all good about the letter last week, i got it now. and thanks for all the missionary letters, its way fun to read them. i think i can print out emails here, it just costs money. i will pay, we are all pretty loaded here. to answer some vaprosee: yes, we can buy most things here. well everything essential. there is plenty not here. good milk. ranch dressing. lined paper. all they have is like graph paper, weirdly enough. i don't really remember "the best two years", but actually i think it is more right than wrong, what i remember. i don't need anything yet, but i will keep you posted on what i want in my first package. and i don't know my address, so just send dear elders to the mission home for now. i think that is the best way to do it, really. though a nice hand written might be nice. hm. most of your questions i have answered in my outline, so I'll just follow that for now.

one thing i really like about this country are the stray cats and dogs. well, especially the dogs. they are everywhere-there is no pound or anything, so they just multiply like stray dogs and there are millions of them. they aren't like "call of duty" dogs, they are always happy, dirty dogs. just walking around, doing their dog stuff. we hit one in a marshutka a few days ago, i felt so bad. i think it lived though. i always just want to go up and pet them, but i don't, don't worry. i might bring one home.

this week was mostly routine, which i hate. hate hate hate falling into the same routine. i wish i had some say in my schedule, because i don't ever want to plan a forgettable day. i want to remember every day, do something awesome every day. i hate thinking about the week and it all blurs together. though there were some great moments this week:

Tuesday was my favorite, though it started out normal. we bought food, did a bit of conslackting, visited an babooshka, ate dinner, and then BOOM. we had a meeting with deyana, a girl who wants extra English help. we talked with her, just practiced some English grammar, got to know her, she was our only advanced English student that day, so we had 2 individual hours with her. then she asked if we were going to talk about our church. of course! we jumped into the first lesson, she wasn't super receptive, had a lot of interesting questions. it was in English, so that was cool. she is a really cool girl, smart and nice. she asked some good questions. like why Joseph smith? was he the first guy to ask that question? there are many types of people, Christ taught one group of people, other people should have different religions that fit them. eventually we ended and i bore testimony, and told her that the only way to know if our message was true was to read and pray about the book of Mormon. i felt the spirit powerfully testify, and she accepted the book and said she would start reading. i hope she does. we meet with her again tomorrow.

i learned a few things i already knew from that lesson: its important to develop a relationship with investigators. so they feel free to speak their mind. so you know them enough to relate to them. i don't know, i just don't think it would have gone so well if we hadn't become friends for 2 hours first.

also, i learned that finding common ground, and then adding to it is the most effective way to teach. there were moments where she would say something, and it would have been so easy to say, no, that's not true, and here is why. but that gets you nowhere. i saw how much better it is to point out her positive beliefs, and add to them, testify about them, teach our doctrine relating to it. it is so much less contentious, brings such a better spirit into the room.

i just felt like it went well. i felt awesome afterward, a real spiritual high. felt like i was fulfilling my calling here. that's how i always want to feel, how i wish i always felt.

Wednesday was weird. we had lots planned, but not much worked out. we went to a member's house, ate a lot of food, then felt terrible. later we went to this less active member's house, ate some more. some borscht, of course. some bread with weird stuff on it, that was OK. there were these mushroom looking things i put on, turns out they were eggplant. and turns out that I don't like eggplant. i gagged it down. I'm just trying not to offend people most of the time, which is more difficult than it sounds. then she gave us to drink some herbal tea stuff, with apparently a creature in it from Asia or something. the creature supposedly secreted some liquid to make the tea do something or other. she said not to worry if i got a little drunk. i didn't, thankfully.

we taught a lesson on humility, because they said she had a problem with it. she does. she said she was on a higher plane than non believer's, atheists, because she believed. they were low and she was high. she was inherently better. she had a dream where she sang to God more beautifully than anyone else, so i think that fueled it as well. it was really weird, she was old, and wore a see-through shirt (everyone does, it's like the 80's here. oh, and mulletts are HUGE). i felt like i understood a lot of the conversation, that was good.

it is hard to simplify most day's as good or bad. like Thursday. we did service in the morning, at a less active member's house, sister loobov (sister love). she fed us a lot of food, most of it not good. Ukrainians love mayonnaise, they cover everything with it. it's unfortunate. then a few other babooshkie (Russian Grandmother) came, i really don't like it. they are very condescending and strange. but i can't do anything about it. they think I'm stupid, i suppose, which i can't exactly prove I'm not in Russian. frustration.

then we tried to find an old investigator, but failed. we will try again later.

did a split with a member, talked with a couple less active girls. talked about why coming to church is important. they both, i think, admitted that they didn't have testimonies. so we both told them to read the book of Mormon and pray. it was sad, but at least they are honest. it is better than them lying to us. so it was an OK day, good mixed with bad. love doing service, don't like being talked down to. love trying to find investigators, too bad we failed. sad that they don't have testimonies, but I'm glad they are honest with us. i don't know how to describe what I'm thinking, oh well.

on Saturday all i remember is we met with this awesome family. it was way fun, they were loud and funny, just like our family, i felt at home. i just wish i could understand them and communicate. add to the fun.

Sunday was frustrating, as usual. three long hours of not understanding much isn't as much fun the fourth time. then we didn't do any missionary work. and my companion complained the whole day. the whole day. how much Ukraine is terrible. how bad Donetsk is compared to sumy. there is nothing i hate more than listening to complaints. get over it. whine whine whine whine whine. i guess I'm whining right now, I'm sorry.

i have made some goals to be more scheduled, especially in my free time. I've gotten a bit lax. like in the hour and a half in the morning, my companion just sleeps through it, so i feel like i can be lazy too. so i haven't done as much as i could to prepare for the day. so I've decided to: exercise every morning, AND eat breakfast. (ne znayu kak) use my study time more effectively. and use my night time more effectively. I've got it all scheduled out, it's great. you'd be proud, ma.

hm. how about my family tree? my dad, obviously is elder Mueller. my mom is elder Johnson. i never knew my grandparents, they were both killed before i was born. i don't remember who killed them. i just hope i haven't killed my companion. maybe i can resurrect him? (If you know what Derek is talking about here, please let us know.)

they told me my Russian is "better than most" for my age. i don't know if they are just being nice. i catch so many words, sometimes a general idea, but it is so hard to actually know what they are saying. I'm tired of thinking about language, really. it is so tiring trying to concentrate all the time. i just want to understand. it's hard to describe, but it's a demeaning feeling.

I'm going to try to send some pictures today. i hope it works.

anyways, thanks for the letters and prayers! keep both up. you are all awesome people. and we are very blessed with the things we have, so be grateful. people here are grateful for what they have, so... yeah.

ya vas loobloo.
c ^I-o6oB, elder Brimley

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

hey everybody:

thanks for all the emails, keep them coming. also i enjoyed Spencer's email, keep that coming too. and Zach's, I would like that. and by the way Alex, i got your dear elder a few days ago, that you sent, probably to the mtc on like august 29 or so. sounds like a good ninth grade experience, have fun. gotta love jr. high. if that gives you an idea of how long mail takes. not too bad, i hear packages take longer.

oh i forgot to mention in my last letter, i found these old pamphlet things we hand out to people, telling a little bit about the church/ restoration and stuff, and guess whose bright smiling face i see? elder brad sarafeenie (Serafine), that was pretty funny.

so, this week....

i felt really sick for a few days, earlier last week. i got a really bad headache on tuesday, and my stomach was painful, i don't really know what it was, not nausea, but something pretty bad. food poisoning? i'm all better now, my tela is adjusted to ookrayeena.

zone conference last tuesday was awesome. elder monchose (he's russian) came, like the president of the eastern europe area. he spoke a lot to us, he is an awesome guy. i understood a lot of what he said. a lot about speaking more russian, as companionships. i've noticed that in this mission, we don't speak much russian. it's too bad. it's hard to feel completely immersed when the majority of what i hear is still english. so i definitely want to do that more, although of course i cant really. zone conference we also practiced asking good questions, which was good. we learned a lot, it was a good meeting.

we tried to make a cake a few days ago. mueller is apparently something of a chef. although he isn't the kind of cook who uses "measuring cups". he ballparks everything, so the cake turned out very interestingly. delicious of course, but a really weird texture. we made it for a member, it was her birthday. we brought it over and hung out for a bit, it was awesome to see their family. three generations living in this teeny apartment, but they were all really happy and nice. it was a good night, they are a really amazing family. it didn't exactly feel like missionary work though.

that's what is frustrating seychas. i don't feel like i am doing much actual missionary work. so i don't always feel like a missionary. like most of our meetings are with babooshka members. i like babooshkie, they are cool and all, but i want to talk to people that don't know about the gospel. thats what a mission is, right? or we meet with other members, and my companion just messes around. yesterday we talked to this one member, jhenia, she has a couple sons, and mueller just played legos with them the whole time. legos. making like guns and shooting them. for an hour. then a short spiritual thought so we could count it as a quality lesson. or like english practice is really cool, i love it actually. but no one stays after it for the spiritual part. probably because of the way we invite them. "thats it for today, you can leave. if you want, you can stay late, in like five minutes we'll have a little spiritual thought, if you want." i think we should guilt them more into staying, but that's just me.

it's not totally mueller's fault, i think there is a lot of pressure to get 15 "quality lessons" per week. the lessons can be with anyone, as long as they begin and end with a prayer. they say that there is a "direct relationship" between them and baptisms. but i don't know, we got 15 qualities this week, but only met with an actual investigator once. i mentioned this in our weekly planning session, but he just said that's the way it is. i don't want it to be.

so then friday night we started a split, lasted till sunday morning. i went with elder richardson, one of my zone leaders. his apartment is amazing! the shower works, the water pressure is more than a drip, he has some tiled floor, and some carpet even. oh and couches. man i forgot how awesome life could be. richardson is in the oldest group here, so he has a transfer and a half left. he is always really excited and friendly when he talks to people, and he is awesome at russian. i got some good advice on studying russian. mostly we just contacted/ tracted (?) all day. but we saw some real success, i think. mostly because richardson, his friendliness and his awesome russian made it somewhat enticing.

we had one lesson with this really awesome lady, an investigator. she looked just like regina spektor, crazy. we talked about the plan of salvation, and christ's role in that, and then about joseph smith. it was in a park, so there were a lot of distractions, and she isn't all that interested in the message. apparently she just likes good conversation. i hope she develops a testimony, she was a really great lady, with a really cute little daughter.

oh, and while i was on the split, mueller and clarkstone (the other zl) visited our investigator larisa, and totally put her on date! october 3, if all works out! she is trying really hard to stop smoking, and she came to church yesterday, so i hope she really does, she is a sweet old lady.

saturday night with richardson, went tracting to some way out of the way chastnie domes, that we figured had never been visited, or at least not often. we met these really awesome 2 ladies, we started talking, and they said they had a question that they had asked many religious people, and never gotten a good answer to. something like, why do muslims and orthodox russians celebrate this same religious holiday. and richardson answered it, talked about the restoration, they were really impressed. talked about the restoration, about our church, gave them a book of mormon. they seemed really excited about it, said they would read, and wanted to talk more. they seemed like the real deal, potential investigators. it was a good split, i learned a lot.

sunday i was asked to bare my testimony in sacrament meeting. i did, it was ok, people said they understood it. which is all i can really ask for right now. after church we visited some more members. it's like, i don't really think they want us there. i want to be a missionary, proselyte or whatever. not just hang out with people all day.

i made a goal i'm excited about, i'm going to learn 20 new russian words a day. i got a bunch of flashcards finally. i love flashcards. i've started figuring out the words i want to learn, i've got a bunch of cards already made. i'm super pumped, i love flashcards. after almost three weeks here, i don't really see much progress. i can understand more, i guess, i'm getting through the accent more every day, but there is just so many words i don't know. man. like sunday night i was trying to have a conversation with jhenia, but my comp was playing lego's, so we kept having to interrupt his fun to translate something. it's so annoying, so annoying. i wish i was an english speaking missionary, or a spanish, i guess. ha ha ha ha ha, never thought i'd say that. no, i'm happy to be learning russian, i love it, but it gets in the way a lot.

all i ever want to do is talk to people about the church, because i have already seen that people are out there, looking for truth, and i really want to find them. because they are awesome, and my message is the answer. i bore my testimony to those 2 ladies on saturday about the kniga mormona (ya snayu shto, kniga mormona, izmenit vashy jhizn, k loochamoo) and felt the spirit bear testimony to me that what i was saying was true. i just want to do that all day. and i want to do it in a language i understand.

to answer dad's questions: haven't bought my winter stuff, though it did get colder last week. not bad enough though. we cook for ourselves, usually i just make bread with cheese on it. this one girl from english asked me to bring some of my peanut butter for her to try. i think i might have lost a little weight, but i don't have a scale so i don't know. lots and lots of frisky girls, i just keep my eyes forward. soccer is pretty big here, but i don't really know, as i don't watch tv or understand russian. we don't work out in the morning, usually my comp. stays in bed during the time we would. but yes, we get along great. and yes, send me some responses to my emails.

i wish i had more awesome experiences to share.

thanks for everything! email me more. especially you, siblings. oh and pray hard.

Love, Elder Derek Brimley