Derek opens his mission call

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)