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