Derek opens his mission call

Monday, January 31, 2011

Great week

hey hey hey hey hey

thanks for the many of letters. a good load this week, if i do say so. it was a good week for me. our zone leaders challenged every companionship to get 15 quality lessons this week, with a pizza party as incentive. so we worked hard, cuz in this area, it is actually quite a challenge. did i tell you that two transfers ago, this area was getting like an average of 6 lessons? this transfer the best we have done is 12... until now. apparently when this area first opened, the elders wanted to get 20 qualities, but they cheated. they taught lessons on the street to random babooshky. like 8 of them. and we got it legitimately. take that, cheaters.

Monday night was really fun, we had a lesson with a really fun family. we taught them how to make tacos, which is what we have been eating a lot this transfer. homemade tortillas, homemade everything else actually. so dang tasty, it blew their minds. i don't think they had ever tasted something that delicious. one of the kids asked, can we make this tomorrow? and the dad said probably not. the kid was then like, can we make them tonight? so tasty.

hey so i got my new passport, it came in the mail. so that is all taken care of. it came really fast, thankfully. that reminds me, this crazy member brat doberday decided to be a detective and find my passport for me ('I've found harder things than a passport before, he he he'). he narrowed it down to elder clarkstone, who he hates. elder clarkstone calls him his arch nemesis as well. well on Tuesday i get a call from clarkstone, who found my passport in his apartment! they had dropped it behind something and couldn't find it. so doberday was right! clarkstone said not to tell him though, because he would probably call the police on him. but now i have two passports, which is great, as passports make a lot of money in this country. so my money worries are over. haha

we had a split on Wednesday, i went to the other elders area with elder Johnson. it was good, Johnson is a cool guy, we had a good time. we also made the best borscht I've ever had. seriously i don't understand how it turned out so well. it was divine. and the thing with borscht is, is that it gets better on the second and third days, so it just got better. gosh it was good!

Thursday night we got back with our comps, and it wasn't looking good. both our companionship's had like 7 or 8 quality lessons, and everything was going to have to go perfect for us to get 14, and then a miracle was going to have to get us to 15. well everything worked out perfectly, and we gave this man with schizophrenia a blessing of comfort on Sunday, so we got it. so we is getting some pizza.

yeah, we haven't even had time to plan our next week, which we were supposed to do on Friday morning. we have been really busy. though i think this no planning thing works OK, we have like 10 quality lessons already set up for next week.

here's something that happened on Thursday night. we were on our way to our landlady's house for a lesson. ahead of us is a man and his son. the man was very drunk, and his son was like 8 or something. the man walked past me, but when Elder Thomas passed by, the man tried to hit him with his forearm. Thomas turned around as the man fell to the ground, as he was very drunk. we kind of stuck around a bit, kind of to make sure he wasn't going to hurt his son or something. he kept like grabbing his son and then falling over, on top of the kid. the kid was crying, telling his dad to call mom. it was awful, we didn't feel like we could do anything, or should do anything. so we just watched. all i wanted to do was beat the tar out of the guy. eventually he passed out in the snow, so we waited there until a couple of other guys came out and helped the kid. it was probably the saddest thing I've ever seen.

Sunday was cool. we had a lesson at the tixamerovs, the district presidents family, and the bontsovs came (the family we made tacos with). so like two of my favorite families ever, a big dinner, it was awesome. the kids are all just awesome, and the parents are all just as cool. they were talking about crazy stuff though, like this war in Egypt, then about guns, then about like the cocaine business in Ukraine. suffice it to say, i didn't understand very much. Thomas said there was a lot he didn't understand. but it was still really fun. way cool families.

to answer your questions: I'm feeling good. pretty cold most of the time, but my apartment is nice and warm, most of the time. in a couple months it will be good. my Russian is fine. did i tell you about the district meeting we had like a month ago? we played a Russian word game, where if you know words, you get points. and i beat my zone leader, and my companion. that was an ego boost. I've been working on listening recently, and it is really hard. there is still so much that i don't understand. my clothes are OK. the pair of shoes I've been wearing are getting beaten. but they should last a good while. I'm good in that area. hmmm... bday suggestions... there is this awesome book called 10,000. it is a Russian dictionary, but the words are in order of frequency. so it is really useful. that would be cool to have. my daily schedule is get up, study, go have lessons or contact, then come in, plan, and sleep. p-days are awesome. we found a bowling alley that, on Monday mornings, charge 14 grivn an hour. like a buck fifty. so we play for like two and a half hours. for like less than five bucks. its great. an hour of internet, some shopping, then hanging out with other elders. it is a great day.

well that's about it for my week, thanks again for everything. love you all. church is true, kak abweechna.

love, elder brimley

Monday, January 24, 2011

Derek travels to Kiev

Hello everybody

So Kiev was the greatest thing ever ever ever. it is such an awesome, beautiful city. so Monday night after p-day we went and got on our train. we were supposed to get our own room, but the guy that bought our tickets apparently forgot, so we were in a four-bed room. it was pretty squishy, and this big old fat guy and his girlfriend were in the room with us the whole night, which was a bit awkward. it was a really long train ride (like 12 hours) and i didn't sleep very well. it got really, really stuffy as for some reason we had a heater in our compartment. so it was a long night. but i woke up and went to the bathroom at like midnight, and looked out the window right as the train was crossing the Dneper river, which was actually pretty cool. it was a sight to see, then i got to see a bit of Dnepropetrovsk.

i can't believe this was only a few days ago. it feels like this was like several months ago for some reason. anyways, so we get to Kiev, go to the embassy, and i order a new passport, everything is cool there, it is being sent to Donetsk in a week or so. after that we planned on going to the temple, as there is a morning session. but when we called the Kiev mission office, they said it was closed for cleaning. so that was a bummer obviously, but we went over and saw it, took some pictures. it is an awesome building. right next to it is the mission office, so it was cool to see that too. my companion saw some old mtc buddies.

after that we went to tgifridays, random i know. it is like one of the only American restaurants: McDonald, dominoes, and tgifridays. it was really good, and very cheap. there were some Australians there that we talked to a little, and then some elderly Americans. Kiev has tourists, it is crazy. after that we just wanted to see the sights, so we went to the main center of Kiev, and that is pretty much where all the cool stuff is. there is this huge tower thing, all these old statues and monuments and buildings. there are also some really famous, also really old orthodox temples that we went into. it was weird inside. but interesting. Man, Kiev has such beautiful architecture. it just makes you happy looking at it. at night, it is still apparently Christmas time, so they put on Christmas lights all over the place, it was the most beautiful thing I've seen in Ukraine. that night was great, I was in shock how many people were smiling. I really felt like i was in Rome or something, it was incredible. i promise i took lots of pictures, this internet club doesn't let me send them, though. one of these p-days I'll send a bunch of pictures.

The train ride back was pretty much the same, didn't sleep much, so Wednesday we were really tired. Wednesday is also 'kreshenia', which just means 'baptism', but it is the day to celebrate when Christianity came to Russia. basically what happened was the king of Kiev, which used to be the center of Russia, decided his people were going to have a religion. and after some study, he decided Christianity was the religion for him. so in January, he had his army break up the ice, and at gunpoint, every person in Ukraine was baptized into the orthodox church. a lot of people died, yeah. but to celebrate, everyone goes and does the same thing on Jan. 19, they cut open a cross-shaped hole in the ice of some lake, and jump in. we were thinking about doing it, but had stuff to do.

The week has gone pretty slowly ever since. a lot of people couldn't meet this week, so we didn't have that many lessons. though we did meet with this one guy on Thursday named Victor. He is really smart, and knows English really well. He is a cool guy, says he really wants to know about our beliefs. But when we offered him a Book of Mormon he refused. and when we invited him to church he said no. So we asked him how he expects to find out about our church without reading our scripture, and he said he just wants to ask us questions and we will answer them. so he is a difficult investigator, but hopefully with time, he will cool down. oh yeah, one of his questions was: did Mormons take part in ww2? and we said, yes. and he said, I would refuse. so I've got a feeling he has a lot of annoying questions like that.

Friday nothing really worked out, we tried to have a few lessons, but they all fell through. on Saturday we had a few, though. unfortunately all of our investigators have hit this weird point where they have either stopped progressing, or slowed down really bad. like volodia, he has been trying to quit smoking, and had a lot of progress, but now he is just smoking like a few a day, and has been at that point for like a month. and Jamal, he isn't really going anywhere at all, he just questions everything, and rejects everything we say. but he comes to church, so whatever. we are trying to help them all progress, but it is, of course, up to them. hopefully they just need time.

last night we met with one of the coolest member families in Ukraine. the district president, who one day will be a general authority, i am quite positive, and his wife and kids, four young boys, named the Tikamerovs. they live in this huge house, fed us a delicious meal, and are just awesome. we had a good time, a really good night.

I've been really tired this week, i think just after effects of Kiev, and all of this cold and darkness. winter here is bad, everyone gets really trunky and depressed. don't worry I'm fine. I'm just dead tired.

As for a quote for this ward bulletin....I'll have to think. one thing I've really come to understand better on my mission is what love really is. i see it everywhere on my mission, between companions, from leaders, to investigators. and i also see the awful effects of the lack of love. the quality of one's life is largely determined by how loved one feels. i remember talking to one lady who said that after her husband died, she has no reason to live anymore. even missionaries (especially missionaries) who don't feel that they are loved won't be good missionaries. that is why getting letters and emails is so important, it gets us through the week. I've come to realize how important expressing and showing our love for one another. it really is the reason for life.

Congratulations Scott for having a court of honor, though I'm disappointed that you have decided against the classic 'face in the cake'. Would have been a great tradition to carry on. keep up the health stuff, mom and dad, that's really great. i think I'm going to start running once it becomes warm enough. a little fat to keep out the cold has been nice though.

Well I've gotta go, so I'll talk to y'all later. Love you bunches. Gospel is true still.

Love, Elder Brimley

Monday, January 17, 2011

Heading to Kiev

Dear family and friends,


what up y'all?

doings at me good. we had a good week, well it was OK. this area has come a long way. it is a brand new area, just opened earlier last year, and there was like nothing here. like three members. last transfer they started with an average of six lessons a week, and we had twelve this last week. things have doubled, it is so nuts. lots of really cool, sincere investigators (who feed). but i think I've already talked about that.

had to waste a bit of time figuring out the whole, 'i don't have a passport in eastern Europe' thing. its all figured out. I'm leaving for Kiev tonight at seven! and i have a meeting at the embassy at like eight in the morning there, and that should take about an hour, then we are going to a session in the Kiev temple at like ten thirty. after that, we have the rest of the day to do whatever we want until our train home that night. we are going to go see the sights, it is going to be tight. we are there Tuesday, and Wednesday is a big holiday called 'kreshenia', baptism. so it will probably be a fun time to be there.

so sadly, several of our investigators couldn't meet with us or come to church this week, so not too much of newness there. i met this guy named Jamal, he is originally from Georgia, the country. he is a way tight guy, very friendly and feeds us a lot. as an investigator he is really difficult, won't accept anything we say really. he knows that the provaslavnee church is evil, he knows there are wrong churches, but he can't accept one church being 'right.' but he says he really likes our church, and his family has also shown some interest, so we keep working with them.

we are also working with this guy named valodia. his wife was an inactive member who recently came back to church, and says she wants to be active. he is an awesome guy. he has been in rehab for a while, and only recently got out. he was a big alcoholic and smoked like twenty a day. since they started meeting with him, he stopped drinking, and has cut smoking to either a few a day, or none at all sometimes. he has come to church four times, and is on date for baptism. he just needs to quit smoking entirely, and he will be ready. he has made a lot of progress, it is actually incredible. since I've been here, unfortunately, he hasn't come to church, and he is still having trouble making that last leap to quitting entirely. he is a way cool guy though.

we also meet weekly with a guy that was baptized last transfer, Alexander. he is so awesome, he understands the gospel as well as i do. basically our meetings are- we bring a topic, start talking about it, and he takes over and teaches the rest of the lesson for us. and we learn stuff. he like makes awesome comments in church, is super happy, he said that after he received the Aaronic priesthood (yeah, it was fast), "i feel like there is a reconstruction going on in my heart." way cool guy.

ha ha, there is this guy in our branch, pretty much inactive, named brother doberday. hes nuts. i met with him for the first time this week, it was a blast. he was the FIRST person baptized in Donetsk, he loves to tell everyone he knows. and it is probably true. there were like ten people baptized on the same day. unfortunately, after he was baptized, he decided he wanted to become a provaslavnee priest, so he went to Kiev and did just that. he was really funny, though most of what he said i can't really write in this email, as he is just a dirty old man. he played us some amazing accordion though, he is really really good. and he has like so much stuff in his apartment that is way cool, like USSR uniforms from ww2. man he is crazy.

we met with these two girls a few days ago, friends about 21 or so, they live like five minutes from our apartment. they are way tight, they came to church, and are very interested in our church. we taught them a bit of the first lesson, and they were asking really good, sincere questions the whole time. watched Finding Faith in Christ video, and they said it was much happier than any other Christ video they had ever seen. two more awesome investigators.

yesterday we had an awesome member lesson with like 15 youth from all over Donetsk. it was weird, i remembered what being a normal 19 year old person was supposed to be like, just hanging out with friends all night. playing games and laughing, just having a good time. we had tacos, but they don't' really know what tortillas are, so they made them with bleen, which are pretty much crepes. they were good though. speaking of which, we have been making some awesome Mexican food. we had some incredible fajitas the other day, man they were good.

questions: yeah, just send anything to that same address, it is the office, so they will get it to me. area is awesome, apartment is awesome, mud is gone (as snow is here). it hasn't actually been too cold, it has stayed about 0. though this morning was a nice -10. its not bad, last year it was -30 for like a week.

thanks for the emails, i might not reply to all of them, but i always read every one, i live for those things. thanks for the love and support and prayers. i know that i feel their effects daily. thanks for everything, maybe I'll send y'all a postcard from Kiev. yeah! talk to you in a week.

love, elder brimley

Monday, January 10, 2011


Dear Family and Friends,

Hey, so about the passport stuff. i had an interview with president, and he basically told us that we are going to have to go to kiev, and i'm going to have to pay for it all. a new passport is like 150$, and the train trip is about 100$ too. like, my new companion had to do it a few months ago. So if you could make sure I have enough money on my card, i'll be doing that next week probably. i'm going to be taking a night train to kiev, getting there by like eight am, and taking a night train back. apparently the embassy takes like an hour, and president said we could do a session at the kiev temple, which is just the tightest thing ever. its going to be such a party. the temple will be in russian. that should be intersting. i'll send some pictures, obviously. maybe a postcard. by the way, i want to send some pictures, but like no internt clubs have usb's, so i can't this week. hopefully next week.

so i got transferred, i got pretty much the best of all my fairly awesome options. I'm still in Donetsk, but in a really awesome area called abidenyony. my companion's name is Elder Thomas, he is a cool guy, hard working and easy going. really down to earth, which is what I've needed. he is from Texas, and he is in his eleventh transfer in country, so the same group as Mueller and prince. My apartment is one of the nicest in the entire mission. Our area is awesome, we have a lot of really cool investigators. like nine, i think. and out of those, four of them are families that we teach. one of them is our landlady and her family, who live in a two story mansion. three of them feed us every time we go over. this area like one transfer ago was known as a really hard area, getting only like six quality lessons a week. this week we got twelve, and the goal is to have 15 by the end of the transfer. this place is exploding.

so i moved from the worst apartment in the mission, in an area with zero investigators, to pretty much the best of the mission in all aspects. the poor kid i replaced is one transfer younger than me, and got sent straight to the rats nest. poor kid. must have been a hard fall. but needless to say, I'm very happy.

so last week was pretty much goodbye lessons for the first four days until i got transferred. like, it was the same as every week for the past four months, just lessons with members. cool members, most of them, so it is fine. but I'm glad to be out, I'm really happy i didn't spend a fourth there. it wasn't too sad or anything, because i still have a year and a half left, so I'll probably see most of them again.

my new district is really tight, we all are just having a party. we had an open house at the church building and, well, a couple people actually came, so that was cool. my area is interesting. it has a lot of the first people baptized in Ukraine here. so it is another really strong branch. about the same size as my last one, but much better run. things just go smoother here. it is cool. like when Donetsk first opened, apparently they sent four elders from the Kiev mission to open it. and they were sent with nothing but one lady's phone number. they called it up and she let them in, they lived with her and stuff. and she now is a really active member, and she lives in our area.

what else have we done... there was an open house, it was OK. like two people came, which was a surprising miraculous turnout. but then the new branch showed how awesome they are: there were refreshments afterward. sandwiches, tea, and cookies. this place is so legit. later that night we went for a lesson at our landlady's. she actually wasn't there, but her daughter and son were, and we taught them a lesson. their house was huge, a two story castle looking building. it has this enormous fence around it and everything. they fed us some delicious cheese and bread.

Sunday was interesting. so I've decided I'm trying something new this transfer, learning Russian-wise. the past few I've been learning words from my textbook and flashcards. I've decided to get every word i study from what i hear. it helped me a lot in focusing on what i am listening to. during sacrament i got a bunch of good words to learn, but i also understood a lot, because i was trying so hard to pick out words i didn't know. it is good practice for my brain, practicing understanding in a different language. like, it was easy because it was all church words, but I'll also do it like on the street and during lessons. so hopefully I'll get more practical words to learn, and figure out how they actually talk. a couple members said i have good Russian for my age. At least once a day, either me and my companion, or our district, or some other group of missionaries have a good long conversation just complaining about Russian. its so dang ridiculous.

we were walking this morning down the street, and see these three guys, one of them was pretty drunk, they were kind of fighting a bit. we stop to watch, see if anything cool happens. this little guy is like yelling at a pretty big guy. and the little one HEAD BUTTED the big one, and like knocked himself to the snow. it was funny. so in response to your question, do you feel safe, yes. like a few days ago, the elder who is now in petrovsky told us that some rebyatta kicked his legs and he fell down, and he was like 'careful! it is slippery!' and he was with his district, and they didn't do anything. my new district was mad, they wanted to go fight some rebyatta. rebyatta means punk teenager. kinda.

oh man, I love my new apartment so much. actually just my new circumstances in general. It is a really fun district, like good, hard workers, but also really fun.

we have sisters in this district, one of them is a greenie. it is funny, she is very excited, and keeps saying 'hello' to members, yeah, in English. good to see that greenie faith, we were talking about it.

so yeah, life is good, or as good as it can be in this country. we saw a miracle the other night. we were looking for a building, and we asked this lady where it was, and she pointed to it. we said thanks, and she said and what apartment number? and she told us where the apartment would be. it was a miracle.

yeah, so I'm out of time. Church is still true. Jesus is still alive. Mission is still service to God. God still listens to prayers, and answers them, as is evident in my new apartment. Thanks for everything.

love, Elder Brimley

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting transferred

Dear family and friends,

First of all, if any of you, dear readers, happen to find my passport, I'd appreciate if you could send it here. yeah, no joke. it's gone. i gave it to the office to get me registered to live in petrovsky, like two months ago. that was the last i saw of it. it got lost somewhere down the line of people who were supposed to get it back to me. after a few weeks of searching, they are calling it lost, which means that i might have to go to Kiev to get a new one. which would be cool, not going to lie, but hopefully someone finds it. we'll see. I'll keep you updated. i don't know when i will go, if i do.

other exciting news: i am getting transferred!!!! Calvert is staying. three transfers is a good amount of time, but four is just too much, in my humble opinion. it was a really good area, i love the members, and a few other people, but it is time. i don't know where I'm going, but most of my options look bright. i move out this Friday and into my new area, new companion. I'm very excited. i feel like I've reached a milestone, I'm a full non-greenie now.

what else happened this week... we got the general conference liahonas! man there is so much good stuff in it. i really like andersens and uchtdorfs talks in the first session. they are really smart men, i tell you what.

so Wednesday was cool- we went back to krasnee hooter again, do you remember that place? it is a little village in the middle of nowhere. we tracted the rest of the houses there. we got a couple contacts, it was OK. one guy actually seemed kind of interested, we will do our best obviously. the one thing that stands out that i remember is this old lady we talked to. we asked her what she wanted out of the remainder of her life. she said that all she wants is to die. she hurts everywhere, her husband is dead, so she wants to die. kind of depressing, but there just isn't anything left for her here.

Friday was new years eve. which is big here. it is everyone's night to get wasted. so Friday a LOT of alcohol was bought. we went contacting a bit, but all that was on everyone's mind was getting drunk. we have to be in by 6, so we didn't do much. but we went in a store to buy some juice, felt kind of childish as everyone else was buying like a gallons worth of vodka. but we drank our juice, and liked it. Friday night it was a bit hard to sleep, it was really loud. and they love fireworks. they are still shooting them off, this morning.

Saturday morning no one was out on the street, it felt like a nuclear holocaust or something. everyone had hangovers, or was still passed out, i guess. we had district meeting so we were walking to the church. on the way we stopped at a bank-o-mat. ATM. to pull off our monthly money. there we met with a couple gentlemen. by the way, this happens a lot, like it isn't funny anymore because it happens so often. they were extra friendly this morning and we delved into the usual conversation we have with this 'class', if you will. you're from America! oooh...then a couple words in English they know, then they laugh at their hilarious joke. how do you like obama, that is a very common one. spoke some Ukrainian because it is also hilarious, and gives them an even bigger upper hand over us. i am pulling off my money, and the expected, hey man, have a soul, give me fifty grivin. no, of course. we walk away and they follow. one of them puts his coat on me, cuz it was cold. they keep asking stupid questions just to bother us, so i start talking about Jesus, that seems to scare most people off. but these guys are persistent. it got way past the point of funny so i tell them to go away, they are drunk. they kept grabbing us so we couldn't get away. it was actually getting a bit heated, i was thinking about punching him, that would have felt so good, but the Z.L.s showed up and we ran into the church building and locked them out. they knocked for a while, but then left. there are so many stupid people like that here. i just don't get it.

oh! so Sunday morning, like four am, i wake up to the sound of dripping water. I'm like, shoot. turns out worse than i thought. our apartment is being filled with water COMING OUT THE WALLS. little holes had ripped through the wallpaper and streams of water were SHOOTING OUT THE WALLS. every few minutes a new hole burst, and more water shot out. with surprising water pressure. other water was dripping from the ceiling, other was just draining down the walls. we hurried and put pots to catch the dripping water, and tried to soak up the rest with rags. there was a lot of water. we did that for a while, then went upstairs and figured out that somewhere above us it was flooding, so everyone below them was getting water. they said it was being fixed so we just kept trying to soak it up until eventually it slowed and stopped. it was a real mess. my bed was pretty soaked. our wallpaper is all pretty badly water damaged. the floor was obviously disgusting. we got it all cleaned eventually, and luckily nothing important got ruined. but gosh... that was a crazy wake up. i felt like i was in a sinking submarine. or that part on Jumanji. I'll send pictures, but they don't do it justice.

so now I'm just getting ready to move, very exciting. saying goodbye to everyone I've met, doing laundry, packing, etc. I'll keep you updated on where and who. and yeah, my passport.

week was good. didn't have any investigator lessons. still muddy. lots of food and candy remaining. goals are being formed in my mind for the next year/ transfer. language goal went well for half of the week. Calvert speaks Russian pretty well. very ready for a change. I live a five minute walk from the church. i think that's all the questions.

congratulations Scott on your big win over mom in ping pong. and congrats mom for getting second place in the tournament. you've all represented me well.

holy cow that fire was crazy! i can't believe that! i don't think i know who lives there but that stinks!

oh man i so wanted to see true grit. i bet it was awesome.

well that is about it. thanks for all the emails, as always. church is still true. talk to you in my NEW AREA

happy new year, love, elder, brimley