Derek opens his mission call

Monday, February 28, 2011

Derek Meets a Woman That Loves Jesus

Hello dear readers!

happy p-day! i hope you all had a good week. mine was. thanks for all the letters, you guys are great. can you believe I'm turning twenty? its a pretty big deal. that's two decades. I'm done with childhood things, I'm a man. well i will be on Wednesday. I'm excited to become a mature, wise adult.

i haven't gotten the package yet, though I'm going to the office today, so, who knows. I'm really excited for it and THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

on to the week: it was an interesting one, though not in a good way. none of our investigators had time to meet, we got dogged a few times, and i swear most of our time was spent waiting in the cold for unreliable buses. and it is really cold. so not the best week work-wise, but we had some successes. did i spell that right? and we had a good time, if that counts for anything.

Tuesday was OK. we had to do some shopping, buy a heater and a vacuum for the apartment. the bus that takes us to the store comes very rarely, so we waited in the cold for probably about an hour, collectively. but now we have a warm apartment, so that was well worth it. that night we went over to the bontsovs, had a fun lesson. they are the coolest people. they told me that my Russian had improved a lot since i had come into the branch. which is good to hear, as I've only been in the branch for one transfer. I've definitely been speaking in lessons more, mostly because i start talking, and i realize that i can speak! its weird, I'm used to like getting stuck on something i want to say, but that rarely happens anymore. so that's cool.

Wednesday was MAN DAY. yeah, its a tight holiday here to celebrate MEN. i think I'm taking this one back to America when i come home (in less than a year and a half, by the way). the sisters brought a tasty cake for the men, and gave us each a gift (toilet paper). it was good. other than that, we didn't have any lessons that day. but it was MENS DAY. womens day is like march 8th or something, we will celebrate somehow.

Thursday was pretty boring. but FRIDAY wasn't. i went on a split with antomonov, who is a greenie straight from Siberia. and he is actually really cool, which is surprising. we had a good time. we went to the bontsovs again, because they had invited him over. so twice in one week! yeah. we made a cake and he ate his first EVER oreo. don't worry i got it on film. one funny thing about him is this: he is from Siberia, which as far as i know is known as the coldest place on earth. well every time i see him he complains about the cold. sometimes i feel like a complainer when i say stuff about the weather, because i know it is colder other places, but now i don't. even the dude from Siberia thinks its cold here. its the wind, man.

the next day we were like planning what to do, and it looked like a full day of tracting until six, because a lesson fell through for like 1. so we tracted from eleven to fourish. tracting stinks, excuse me, but i really don't think there is another word to describe it. it stinks so bad. most people didn't answer the door, just yelled go away. the ones who opened the door weren't interested at all. that day more than most seemed very unproductive. THEN: a miracle. this lady was walking up the stairs, and she was like "well, tell me." we were like, uh, we are missionaries talking to people about Jesus. she was like, "OH MY GOSH I LOVE JESUS! I LOVE READING ABOUT JESUS!" and we were like, well, we have a book that is all about Jesus! she was like GIVE ME! and she was like, i have watched every movie about jesus ever made! and we were like, we have several movies about Jesus! she was like YEAH!!!! we were like, and here are some brochures about Jesus! and she was like YEAH! she said she was doing some errands so she had to go, but she also said, you don't even need to knock on the rest of these doors, I'm going to tell everybody about the xoroshee malchickie (good boys). well we start knocking on a door, and an old lady opens it, sees us, and says no, i don't need this. the other lady from like two stories down yells: 'listen to them! don't close the door, they are good boys!' she closed the door. then the lady comes up and she has 10 grivin in her hands and she is like, take this! for the book! i cant take it for free! go buy yourself some goodies! and we say no, we have sufficient for our needs. the lady probably sounds crazy from the story, but she actually wasn't, she was just really excited. and Russians are never excited. they don't even have a word for it. so we will see where that goes.

we decided to take a lunch break, and antomonov taught me some sweet slang. i now can say, hey guy, what are you looking at? want to fight? get out of my face, snotface. yeah, i'm cool.

later tracting, we knock on a door, and a member answers it, she is a member who we have been trying to have lessons with but she always says no because she is doing a remont and is embarrassed. so on accident we knock on her door, and she is like, come on in. she probably didn't believe that it was an accident, now that i think about it. but she was awesome, she is the cook for the office elders. and now we can meet with her every week. she invited us over and she was like, and be prepared to eat bleencheeky! which are crepes, because this week is CREPE WEEK! which is exciting.

those were the highlights of the week. this next week looks even better: bleen week, my birthday, already have several lessons set up. hopefully it works out better than this one. today we are celebrating my birthday, we are going to go to either this restaurant called Liverpool, which is like an English buffet, or this Mexican restaurant. we shall see.

my comp is from salt lake, we get along great. I'm good with money. sasha, i was afraid that he had lost interest, but i called him yesterday and asked if he still wanted to meet with us, and he was like, of course! so that's good.

its funny. the more i understand people, it doesn't really change my impression of them. it is pretty obvious the good people from the mean ones. like alexander, the guy who recently got baptized, i still don't really understand him that well. he uses really smart words. but you can just tell that he is awesome. thats one thing i really like about the mission. there are all these awesome people, and i can just call them, and say, hey can we come over and talk? and it is totally normal. i really like being able to just talk with these people, especially the members. some are crazy and weird, i won't lie. but then there are the bontsovs, who are just the kindest, happiest people. its so crazy that i ended up meeting them. like what are the odds, honestly? i lived in Utah. they live all the way in Donetsk Ukraine. its just interesting. it is a fun way of life.

well i can't really send pictures. the one place in Donetsk that lets you do that, i just found out, closed. so if i go to Kharkov, I'll send some pictures. shame.

i wish you a merry bleen week. and yes, please have stuffed waffles or french toast or whatever on Wednesday. i love you all!

love, elder Brimley

Monday, February 21, 2011

Derek gets a new companion--twice

Hello family and friends.

It was a pretty interesting week, lots of fun stuff. I mean, it is week 6 of the transfer which is always fun. I guess I'll start at the beginning: monday

It was Elder Thomas's last week in the area, so obviously we were having goodbye lessons with all the members and investigators. Well that's what we wanted to do, but Thomas was feeling pretty sick for Tuesday and most of Wednesday. So unfortunately we had to stay in for a couple lessons. we did go out a little bit, but a lot of resting. Later in the week i was feeling a bit sick too, nothing bad, just sore throat and congested, you know. but it was a good week anyways, had some good last lessons with some awesome people. Tuesday we had a giant shashlik, aka shishkabob party with our district and the Bontsovs, an awesome family who threw the party for the three elders leaving the branch. All in all a good week, but obviously the main event was transfer meeting on Friday, the scariest of all days.

So, as you saw from the pictures, I received as a companion elder Thornburg! he is an awesome kid, really funny and nice. He has a good soul, and we had a lot in common, a lot of common interests. same taste in music, even. Which is saying something, if you know my taste in music. Friday we got him all moved into the apartment, got to know each other, and I explained to him the area, the people, the apartment, tried to help him understand the area. It was good, we had one lesson cancel on us, but it was OK.

The next morning we get up, do studies, and head to a member lesson. On the bus over there, lots of people get in, and me and my companion get separated by people. We get to our stop and I get off, and then he gets off, and he says: well, it has been a good split. And I say, what? And he says, yeah. President Fry just called me and I'm moving back to the office. (he was in the office last transfer. next week a new office couple are coming in and they need to be trained, and then in a few weeks the area president is coming, so the office needs to be in tip top shape for all of that. and the elder that got moved wasn't a computer guy, and the other elder didn't know what he was doing. so they needed him back in there bad.) so, we had the lesson, packed him up, and swapped companions. luckily, I am now companions with elder Rollison, who is also super tight. He is just a saint, actually. we are getting along really well, we also have a lot in common. So it was too bad, as I was excited for Thornburg, he is just two transfers older than me, so that would have been new, but it is good. Rollison and I are getting along really well. one surprising note: he is my first companion from Utah.

So that was the craziness. My district is cool too, the other elders are a new native missionary, who actually seems way cool, and his cool trainer. So I'm happy with my district, its going to be a blast. We are all hoping winter stops soon, spring is just going to be a party. Oh, and my birthday next week will be a party. And a couple weeks after that will be zone conference, which will be a party too. It is going to be an awesome transfer, we are going to work really hard, our goal is to reach 20 quality lessons, which should be a very difficult, but technically possible goal. We shall see.

Whoa. send me some more information about the mission president!!! All I knew is that they were announcing it sometime soon. What is his full name? Do you know anything else? All of us in this internet club are freaking out, a Russian mission president would be crazy. Hopefully crazy good...

To mix things up, I shall answer some questions: i don't think my hair is falling out. yes, there are effects from Chernobyl, but not really anymore. we don't eat fish, well I haven't. yet. I loved the valentines package and the poems were top notch. I'm super pumped for my next package. THANK YOU!!!!

A quick Russian update: still really hard. It is really really hard. But I'm kind of getting it. i can have conversations OK. we had a missionary meeting on Sunday, and i had to report on my area, as my companion had just come the day before, and i think i actually did an OK job. my grammar is OK, and I can just think of words fairly fast. i have an OK vocabulary, a good word bank to choose from. the hardest part for me is understanding. The thick accent, plus the Russian word order and grammar, and then they just talk too fast for me to figure it all out. add that to me not knowing the words they use, it is hard. the worst is, I understand way better than i can speak. but, I'm feeling OK with it. I'm still studying hard, I haven't died out yet, which is actually surprising. That's that.

Well like I said, we weren't able to have too many lessons last week, as we both fell ill. So not too much new with investigators, though that kind of feels usual sadly.

I think I'm going to try to send some pictures. so I'll stop here. love you all! have a good week! don't forget, most importantly, my birthday is March 2. ne zabood. samaya vashna. tserkov istina. Mission is awesome, Church is true.

Love, Elder Brimley

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nervous about upcoming transfer

Hey y'all:

Answers to some questions:

Yeah i've heard about the egypt stuff, but i didn't know the outcome yet. that is pretty nuts, and pretty awesome that they actually are winning their freedom. i guess we will see what the military will do and whatnot. i found out a few weeks ago from the district president. or i guess i should say, my companion after he talked to the district president.

Yeah we work with the mission leader, but it is just a weekly meeting after church, where we tell him about our investigators, and he says good job, or gives some advice. we have actually gotten a couple of referrals from members, but usually it doesn't work out. like the mission leader gave us a referral, and we called the guy and he said he doesn't have time. that is what a lot of people say.

I'm not hungry, i've been eating really well recently. we eat tacos like twice a week. i havent bought boots because now it is too late. winter is ending. next winter i definitely will buy boots. my feet are just constantly cold. This has been the weather the past while: really cold. it has stayed around zero for most of the winter, and yesterday it jumped down to negative 17, and today is negative 18. there is a constant, cold, wet, snow blowing in this awful wind. it has been very miserable recently, shortly said.

I've given up on finding a cd player. i don't think they are sold in this country.

My companion goes home in august, though he is going home one transfer early, because of school. his whole group of 8 is going home one transfer early, actually. so he is like 3/4ths of the way done. but hey, my birthday is on my six month mark in country! big day, huge day. a landmark moment. then in just a couple more months is my year mark on a mission! what a day that will be.

I heard sloan quit, but i thought he just was going to retire. man, that's too bad. he has been their coach for longer than i've been alive, hasn't he? yeah, i hear that byu is doing awesome, and i hear jimmer is just a beast.

But on to more pressing matters: transfers. i don't know how big of a deal these are in other missions, but here they are kind of like our best form of entertainment. every week six is just crazy, trying to figure out where everyone is going. and this transfer every companionship, except one, is affected. my comp is getting transferred, and the other two in my district are both transferred as well. so i'm going to have a completely new district, crazy stuff. i've got good options so far, but keep me in your prayers. this is always a scary time in the mission. transfer day. the next six weeks to twelve weeks of my life hang in the balance.

This week was rather uneventful. I went on a split with a newer elder, who is one transfer younger than i am, though in real life he is already 21. it was fun, it was the first time i've ever been the person in the companionship who understands more, and can speak better russian. which was fun, kind of. it made me realize a big problem with working with young missionaries. so i was talking to this guy on the street, and he was saying, you guys are all the same. you and the jehovas witnesses all just believe that god is jehova, and deny that jesus was the son of god. but all my companion understood was 'you believe in jehova'. so he said something like 'yeah! we believe in jehova!' so the dude walked away. other times, i would just be having a conversation and he would interrupt and say something way off topic. i mean, its good for young missionaries to talk, practice.

Heres something- our electricity goes out on friday, at like 3 pm. we waited for a bit, but it didnt come back on. so we decided we would worry about it that night, and went out and worked. it was still out when we came in, and just pitch black, and we were like, lets worry about it when we wake up, and hopefully it is on. well it didn't come on, which meant that it was really cold, and that our water heater wasn't working so we couldn't take showers. so we went to the office to get my passport (and we both got packages), and then it was still off when we got back. then we called the hazaika, and she got it figured out. so that was that.

Yes. the dude that came to church, and seemed really legit, turned out to be actually really legit. which is unfortunately unusual. we met with sasha (thats his name) three times this week. he is really smart, a very deep thinker, but also open to new ideas. we have had some really good lessons with him. he has a wife and kid, and he is just the nicest guy. and funny too. and he has a lot of free time, i guess he isn't working right now. but we have him reading the book of mormon and praying, so that is awesome. yeah, he is just so legit. like maxime of old, but with lots of free time.

The coming week is going to be pretty hectic. all of my companions 'goodbye' lessons. we might just get 20 quality lessons, which would be nothing less than miraculous. this area has become an above average area. most areas get less than 15 a week, and two transfers ago the average was 6-8. now we should be getting like 17 by thursday. so yeah, pretty sweet something.

Well i'm out of time. so paka. the church is true, and apparently fasting works, so thanks for that. love you all.

Elder Brimley

Monday, February 7, 2011



good week, good week. sounds like y'all had an eventful week. what with all the happenings and things. in response to some questions: it is going good. we haven't had our pizza yet, we are going out today! it will be delicioso. and i haven't paid for the train ride to Kiev or back, just for the passport, so hopefully i never do. if they ever try to get me to pay for it, i will probably bring up that none of it was even close to my fault. yeah, my zone leader felt bad, but it was too late. now i just have a second passport to sell on the black market. so it will all work out for the good.

like i said, good week: Monday night we had a lesson with jamal, which went as it usually did. he went off about how Ukraine stinks, how he wants to go back to his home country Georgia. talked about politics a lot. it is pretty good for my Russian, i always write down some good words. whenever we teach something, he just doubts, rejects it. like, we said, eventually everyone will know that Jesus is their savior, and will bow to him. i mean, he says he believes scripture, but he was like, no. there will always be people who won't bow. he is just a hard investigator, probably won't go anywhere. but he feeds us awesome, he has a family, and he lets us into his house for a lesson every week. and he is really a great guy, just lacks faith i guess.

Tuesday! Tuesdays are not my favorite days of the week. then they get gradually better until p-day, which blows every day out of the water. i can't remember a day i have ever enjoyed more, in my entire life. which is why Tuesday is not my favorite. so last Tuesday we had interviews with President Frye. pretty routine for me, how are you doing, hows the area, hows the companion, hows the language, keep up the good work, bye. always good to talk to president of course. we had a few member lessons set up, only one of which fell through. oh, we made some awesome borchsh. my companion makes special 'texan' borchsh, with beans and barbecue sauce, and peppers. man, it was tasty. not exactly borchsh, but one of the tastiest soups ever. and the best thing about borchsh is that it gets gradually better each day. so like day three borsch is the tastiest.

Wednesday was a really fun day. it was my companions 21'st birthday. so i got up and made some awesome bleencheekie. crepes, and we had peanut butter and nutella to put on them. best breakfast I've had in a long time. actually one of the only breakfasts I've had. so then we go to district meeting, which was really just a district party. we made homemade tacos together, and the sisters brought a cake they had made. they made it out of pretty much just a bunch of candy bars, snickers, with coconut, and somehow it was a cake. it was like as thick as brownies. dang it was good. we all had like one piece and couldn't eat any more. like that one Costco cake. aaahhhhh Costco cake

that day we also got into this 81 YEAR OLD babooshka's apartment. they contacted her last transfer, and we finally got in. she was definitely old, especially for Ukraine, but she seemed more there than most. she could walk around pretty normally, she talked to us normally. we had a good basic lesson about god, prayer, Jesus, basically just a simple lesson to wet her taste buds. she invited us back and told us she wanted to come to church. as we were leaving she asked us what we believed about visions, and we said that they are possible. she then told us that she believed that she had a vision in her sleep, and she had seen Christ. it was interesting, she said that she knew it was Christ, but he didn't look anything like any pictures she had ever seen, on the icons or anything. that was cool.

Thursday and Friday i don't remember what happened. there is some bad news about volodia, one of our investigators. we keep trying to have lessons with him, and his mother in law always answers the phone and says he isn't there. she like hates the man, always just puts him down, says he'll never quit drinking or smoking. so we haven't been able to meet with him in a few weeks, he doesn't have a cell phone. we've tried to go over a few times, and he is never there. i think it was Friday night we call them, and his wife answers and says that no, he isn't there. she tells us that he no longer lives there. apparently they kicked him out of the house, so he is now homeless and without a phone or anything to get a hold of him with. we told her to tell him we called and want to meet if she sees him. I feel bad for the guy, that's got to stink . its cold out.

Saturday... it was OK. it was snowing really, well, annoyingly. there have been a couple of times when there are these enormous snowflakes falling, really slowly, and there is no wind, and it is just awesome. Saturday there were really tiny, cold, wet snowflakes flying in a fast wind right into my eyes. and it wasn't cold enough, so it turned all the snow into really deep slush. and i don't really have boots, so it all just flows into my feetsies. that made the walk to church an adventure as well. i don't think the word adventure is the one i meant to use. i think i meant to say it stunk.

hey i really appreciate the fasts in my name. i can really see their effects: Sunday at church, this random like 20 year old dude showed up. in gospel principles, he was like making comments and asking good questions. we asked him if he knew someone in our church and he said no. we got his number and asked if we could come over and meet with him he was like 'obshatsya ya loobloo', which means 'I love to chat', but the real meaning doesn't really translate. he seems way legit, he said call me anytime, any day. he said he really liked church. so that was a miracle. funny how fasting does that.

this letter is probably getting to that point of a bit too long, so I'll end here. love you all! thanks for the emails. talk to you next week.

love, elder brimley