Derek opens his mission call

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