Derek opens his mission call

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jesus resurrected!

happy easter! it didn't really seem like easter yesterday. except everybody was carrying around baskets with eggs in them. but also in all of their baskets was vodka. haha, good job ukrainians. so one cool thing they do here for easter is say, in russian obviously, 'jesus resurrected!' which is really just, happy easter. and the reply is 'he indeed resurrected.' it is more beautiful in russian. another thing they have is these easter cakes, which they call, easter. they are basically slightly sweetened bread with raisins and sprinkles. but there are millions of them. we got gifted a couple of them, even.

happy birthday nate! not until wednesday, but have a great day. i hope you like your gift. sounds like you are getting pretty tall? how'd that happen? good job with your soccer games and whatnot.

and congrats nicole for graduating college! who'd a thunk? i never lost faith. i knew you could do it. sounds like you guys had a fun week, lots of celebrating.

my week was good too. tuesday we did four hours of service at this park, repainting this big slide. mostly just covering up swear words, actually. but we made it look a lot better. it was a lot of fun, most of donetsk came in. afterwards we did yet another hour of service, digging up some dirt at a members house. haha, afterwards, this babooshka was like, you guys are so great, you are so strong and beautiful boys, thanks so much, you are so big(speaking of noren), and you are a bit smaller(me), but still good' and her daughter, who is like thirty, said "big guys are for working, little guys are for loving." i think that is my new motto.

that night we had a lesson with volodia, who is the guy who is trying to quit smoking. he is doing awesome. he has quit drinking, and he really wants to get baptised, but obviously smoking is hard to break. we had another lesson on saturday, and he said he is doing better already, smoking much less. he seems happier, more talkative, he is a very humble, great guy.

then wednesday we had a split, i went to the other elder's area, where we contacted all day. kind of like my area! it was good, i haven't left my area for a split for all of last transfer, and it was making me a bit claustrophobic. oh, and for the first time since i've been here, we actually got called over by a prostitute on the street. she did the little ukrainian sign of lifting up her leg and she was staring us down like crazy. she was like thirty, and so not too much of a temptation. and we kept walking by.

thursday was good too, we did service at that same park for another 4 hours. the government apparantly asked the church to do it, or something. it was fun again, just painting stuff. this time it was a pavilion where, in antomonov's words, drunk people will come and party.

afterwhich we had a lesson with yaraslava,the lady who came to church. she is still awesome, said she loved church, and will keep coming. she said she is trying to quit smoking, so we talked about faith and repentance and baptism, obviously. unfortunately she couldn't come to church this week, but she called us before and told us, which was legit. she was busy. which i believe. i'm pretty sure she is a crazy rich lady, because she moves all the time, and sponsors big events. so yeah, she is awesome, i really like her. we had tea and that cheese you rip off, stick cheese? how is that called?

we had a good lesson with konstantine on friday, we watched the restoration video with him, and afterwards he said that when he met with missionaries before, he didn't think it was realistic, but now his point of view has changed. it was a really quick lesson.

then we met with pavel again. it was an ok lesson, basically he just talked about lots of different philosophies. he is still reading the book of mormon, which is good, but other than that he isn't really willing to do anything, like come to church. i'm afraid he is going to become an eternal investigator, which is really sad. hopefully he starts progressing again.

saturday we had a lesson with the gypsies, who are still pretty cool. first we watched finding faith in christ, because they love watching movies about jesus. unfortunately they don't have a remote control, so we couldn't change the language. so i had to try to translate into russian. and its like scripture, so i simplified a lot. and it is fast. that was a firstthen we taught most of the plan of salvation. this time it was only vladik, and his brother, but they seemed pretty interested. oh, i finally heard some of their gypsy language. it is pretty scary. unfortunately they can't read, so we are getting them an mp3 of the book of mormon to listen to. so that will be good.

sunday we contacted after church. ha, in the distance we saw a huge fire, and all these kids were yelling 'fire! fire!', and so we walk over, and as we walk toward it, we pass like ten policemen walking away from it. we get to the fire, and it is blazing away, and no one is around it. so either it was an accident and no one cared, or it was intentional, and they didn't stay to make sure nothing bad happened. it eventually burned itself out. they love fire here. they just burn their trash, i think it is a pretty good idea.

it was a good week, our numbers were really good, and that is what is most important, like my zone leader said. if we get 20 quality lessons this week we get a free ride to this one famous monument next p-day. so we might have to bow down to the number gods and pull out a bunch of old investigators.

yes we finally got some more copies of the book of mormon. oh yeah! i made my first borsh, well the first that i myself made. it was pretty good. i figure if i make one a transfer, then i will perfect it. it has lasted us five days now. i figure it is time for something else now.

send my congrats to allison and her husband!!!!! and to ryan!!!! don't forget to let me know where he is going! and when.

man you are all so great. i so wish i could say that i'll be with you guys next easter. i will almost be home by next fourth of july. oh gosh i almost forgot to say, the weather is inCREDIBLE. it is so warm, i'm just wearing a short sleeve shirt all the time. soon it will be unbearably hot, but for now i love it. i even got a sunburn on tuesday!

well i hope you all have a FANTASTIC week. i desire you all the best of everything. Jesus resurrected!

love, elder brimley

Monday, April 18, 2011

Teaches a family of gypsies

Dear family and friends,

I'm teaching a family of gypsies. don't freak out. they are good gypsies. i think.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNA! i miss birthday season back home. what a great time. it sounds like you had a good time. that's good, i hope you liked my present. in honor of your birthday yesterday i made a pretty crazy meal, at least for my standards. it was this chicken with cheese in the middle, breaded and everything. i took a picture, don't worry.

so we could only meet with pavel once this week, as he went to visit his dad for like half the week. it was good, we finished teaching the gospel of christ. he is still reading and praying, he says, but he kind of told us some strange concerns that i don't really know how to fix. he says he understands the moral side of religion, but not the side of traditions, like symbols, or ordinances and stuff. so i tried to tell him about the meaning behind the symbols, but i don't know if it helped.

on tuesday we had a special 'training meeting' for our district, with president and sister fry. they talked about becoming more unified. we also had interviews, which are always fun. don't tell anyone, but i got a transfer secret: i am going to be transferred out at the end of this transfer.

YES i sometimes play the piano, at the church once in a while. and the other elders have a piano, but i don't go over there very often.

on wednesday morning we had a lesson with yaraslav, that lady who was really tired. it was really short, about thirty minutes, but i did a really quick first lesson, the restoration, gave her a book of mormon, invited her to pray and to come to church. and she CAME TO CHURCH! she is a way cool lady, very smart, fun, talkative.

so then after wednesday we just did a lot of contacting/ tracting. but somehow, the mission is out of book of mormons. yeah, how in the world did that happen? anyways we have only a few more, and we are rationing them out. i feel like a j dub, preaching out of pamphlets. but we got a really cool contact friday night. we were standing at a bus stop to go home, and this guy comes up to us. we say, hello. and he starts talking about how he really wants to meet with us, he sees us all the time, and his wife just had their first baby, and he wants to talk about faith, or whatever. we get his number, and the next day we call him and set up for that night. oh his name is vladik.

saturday was an awesome day. we start out with a baptism, the other elders in our area baptised a really cool lady. it was a great service, and just cool to see that those things really do happen sometimes. then we did some service around the church territory. which is always good. then we went right to a lesson with sister lidia, one of my favorite members ever, the cooking lady for the office. she fed us a good meal, and we had a good meeting. then we went to the lesson with vladik.

so we show up at his door, and opens up this woman. and i say hey, is vladik here. and she says no, we don't know a vladik. we call vladik and ask him if we are at the right door, and he says yes, but he is still at the hospital with his wife. the woman comes out again and says, hey, you said his name wrong. its vlAdik, not vlad I k. if that makes sense. so they invite us in, we talk for a while. oh yeah, its this whole family, three like thirty year old men, two little kids, and this woman. they are all brown, and quite obvioulsy gypsies. but they are really nice and really interested in the church. we ask if we could share our message, and they say of course. we teach it, give them a book, they say they will read it together. by the way, this was the first time on my mission that i have taught the gospel to a family, other than members. then they asked if they could come to church, and we say YES. they said they would if they could, but they didn't. they were so tight, way nice, fed us some sandwiches. and they didn't steal anything! the only thing i knew about gypsies before this was when i heard that brad got robbed by them in ukraine. so i guess they aren't all evil. they also kept talking about 'next time' so that means they want us back. i'm starting a gypsie revolution.

sunday was great. yaraslava came to church, i introduced her to a bunch of people, sat next to her, explained everything. she kept saying that she loved the atmosphere, the building, and especially the people. she was really surprised at how nice everyone was, and how many people were smiling. she leaned over to me and said 'its like we are in a different government'. she doesn't really like ukraine. but it was also a good testimony of that our church is a great place, and awesome, and true. did i mention that this is the first time on my mission i have had an investigator come to church?

so it was a pretty cool week, we saw lots of success. working hard. oh here is some more news, not so good though: no more playing sports on p-days. we have to stay in our areas all day. which is terrible. everyone is so angry.

anyways, i can't stop thinking about how i'm teaching a gypsie family in ukraine. oh, i have a new favorite russian word. it means 'female gypsie': tsiganka. fun to say.

thanks for all the emails, as usual, and advice and what not. i'll keep it in mind. send a thanks to judy and jamie. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNA! I LOVE YOU! i miss you guys.

i probably forget to respond to a lot of things you guys write, but i promise i read it all. and really appreciate it all. it is fun hearing about what goes on back there.

i love you all! the church is true.

love, derek

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another week in Ukraine

Dear family and friends,

I don't know if you noticed, but the name of my new mission president came up in general conference: he was released as an area seventy. so, how legit is that? we have a member of the seventy as a mission president in like three months or something.

oh wait HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX! 12 years old, i just can't believe it. i just truly can't. time in the truest sense flies, does it not. what a miraculous turn of events this is. i hope you enjoy my gift, though i can't really remember what it is. if you don't, you can share with somebody elses.

as is probably evident, i don't have all too much to write about this week. it was a good week, we did some good work. lets see...

Tuesday we had a really good lesson with Pavel, we watched the finding faith in Christ video, then taught the third lesson, the gospel of Christ. unfortunately/ fortunately, his mom came in a bit before we were finished, and made us a big meal! so for the first time on my mission i got fed shee (borst without the beets). mmm good.

Wednesday... i can't remember, we got haircuts, we had district meeting, and started a split. i was with antomonov, and it was an awesome split. we just laughed the whole time. we had both our lessons drop on us, so it turned into a contact to this big cemetery in my area and back. we talked to a couple people, so that was good. then Thursday we had a boring day, met with a couple members and contacted. i'm getting pretty bored of my area.

Friday was a bit better. we met with pavel again, but randomly he got all excited and showed us thousands of pictures of his trip to the kreme, which is a (the?) cool place in Ukraine. it was cool, and good even just to become better aquainted and better friends, but we didn't teach anything. but oh well. next time. then we had this lesson with this guy konstantine. he met with missionaries like 10 years ago, and remembered it surprisingly well. he is a really nice, happy man with a family, but pretty much he just liked having an interesting nice conversation with americans. we invited him to read the book of mormon, and he said he would, though, so we will give him a shot.

saturday and sunday were taken up completely by general conference. which was awesome. and a big party, as all the missionaries from around donetsk come in, and we all just watch it together. it is so great to see other missionaries, relax, tell mission stories, oh its just so great. and all the talks were good too, i learned a lot. i think every speaker mentioned getting married at some point in their talk. i liked when eyring at priesthood session was joking around about his hard neighborhood growing up. i got a crack out of that.

i'm glad the package at least somewhat made it. i hope everyone likes their presents, i just looked for junk off the market that you can't find in america, for the most part. its the THOUGHT that counts. oh and sorry about the april fools joke, i wasn't sure if it was too harsh, but it sounds from the reactions that it was tasteful. you are welcome.

my advice to someone volunteering at the mtc... i dunno, try not to be fake, i guess, so once in a while a fresh breath of real life was nice. and yes, i am the senior in the companionship, as i am two transfers ahead of him, and i've been here for three now. so otherwise would be madness.

yeah, like i said, a rather uneventful week. i'm getting pretty tired of this whole donetsk thing. think about it: next transfer, which are every six weeks, i will hit my one year on a mission mark. it is a bit hard to think about, because i would assume that after half of my mission, i would be able to look back and see at least some sort of success. it is really hard not seeing any good come out of hard work. the biggest change has been in myself, which is good and all, but it would be nice to see some visible success.

ok sorry about that. i love you all! and i love my mission, especially the missionaries. have a good week, and happy birthday alex! i will celebrate in your honor.

love, derek

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crazy man at church

Dear all,

have i told you what the name of my area means? it means UNITED. pretty legit.

i'm doing awesome. the weather is warming up, although there has been this blasted wind and clouds ruining the warm suns' rays of glory and happiness. but it is warm enough to play SPORTS today, which is what i'll be doing in a couple hours. so basically there is this field right in front of my house, and i convinced everyone that it is the best place to do sports on pdays. so everyone is coming to ME. which is desirable.

i'm sorry you can't perfectly read my emotions by reading my emails. don't you worry, i'm DOING GREAT. i'm sad to see rollison go, he is such a good kid. but me and my new comp are doing some really good work here, and things are just going to keep snowballin'. i'll show you. you'll see.

that reminds me: transfer day was awesome. they switched things up, put the transfers in eggs and let us crack them open and read them ourselves. and it was april fools, which means they had a lot of fun messing with us. actually they only did a couple fake transfers, but it was funny. elder rollison is going to elder johnson in LUGANSK. man! i just pray i follow him. and yes, elder noren i got. he is two transfers younger than me, a hard worker, friendly. he is a good kid. from texas, served in the army, he is twenty one years old. lets just say, he gave a spiritual thought before our planning session. thats all we'll say.

the rest of the week was OK! with the exception of a few very awesome parts. so above average, i would say. monday night is one of those awesome ones. so we set up with the tikamerovs, who live outside of donetsk, so they have to drive us there and back. they said the only time that worked to drive was around five thirty. so basically we just hung out at their house for like four hours. which probably makes me sound like a bad missionary, but it was the only way, it was rollison's last time, and it is the district president of donetsk. and it was awesome.

pavel is doing great. we met with him twice this week. the first time was tuesday at his apartment, and we had another good lesson about the book of mormon, we answered some questions, had a really good discussion about prayer, god, basically just a general religious discussion, but it was good. at the end his mom came in, who is an identical twin of her sister looba, who we first got in contact with. his mom was super friendly, even got after him for not feeding us. we said, next time for sure. walking away from that lesson, we met looba randomly, and she was like, hey, you should come over for tea and cookies sometime and we can chat! and we were like, ok! so basically the dream is to be teaching their whole awesome extended family. that will be the day.

our next lesson with him was one of the best. we met on a park bench on saturday (so this was with noren). i told him we wanted to talk about gods plan for us, and he said cool. so i taught a really detailed, but simple, but thorough, but complete second lesson. it is so much easier to teach in english, by the way. he really liked it, said that most of it he agreed with, but admitted some doubts about that last part, what with the kingdoms and all. so i again explained about how to recieve knowledge from god, and about reading and praying about the book of mormon, coming to church. he seemed to really get it this time, and he said that it is very important to him to find out if the plan of salvation is true. those were beautiful words to hear. he also mentioned a girlfriend that was against our church, so that might become a problem, but for now, he is doing great. he promised to read and pray about the book of mormon every day. we even invited him to play sports with us today, and he is coming! should be fun.

oh saturday was a good day. it is a day of service all over ukraine, so obviously the church had a big old service day. lots of people were on the roads and stuff sweeping or raking. so now there are like hundreds of piles of dirt all over the streets, and no one knows what to do with them, so they are just slowly blowing away in the wind. good job, ukraine. nice try. for our service, we raked up some leaves and beer bottles/needles from a couple little areas of grass. from the mouth of elder mccallison: 'it is now debateable that it looks different'. so i think we really did a lot of good. if not good, at least we made it look slightly different, for a couple of days.

saturday we had a couple hours to contact as well, and for some reason we had a whole bunch of success. we got several really good contacts who said they would be interested in meeting. it was bizzare. because on sunday we had like double the amount of time to work, but we got one contact. though that contact was cool. she was walking up some stairs, and she was like, hey guys. i'm really tired right now, so i can't talk, but i really would love to meet with you. i've always wanted to, but i work a lot. my husband isn't really into religion, but i would love to know more. here is my number, call me sometime and we will meet.' so that was cool. that doesn't often happen.

church that day was a good time though. i walk in, and our mission leader comes up and he points to this guy, and he is like, there is your new investigator. so i go up and say hello, and he says, hey i want your autograph, i have some autographs from americans, i want your autograph. i say, ok, i guess. and he is like, i'll get that later. i'm an immigrant. an immigrant. and i say, where were you born? and he was like, ukraine. so i asked, where do you live? and he says, in donetsk. he pulls out of his pocket one of those stress balls that looks like the earth, and he was like, i stole this from a bank. it is a symbol of a bank. the earth sphere. the earth ball. do you like chess? i say yes. he pulls out of his other pocket a horse chess piece and says i love chess. he opens up the piece and in there i see some pills, and he is like, thats my medicine. i was like, ok all makes sense now. but i sat next to him during sacrament, and he was pretty funny. he kept on doing a bunch of little hand tricks, and laughing really loud. doing the hard rock sign and saying, in english, heavy metal rock. heavy metal rock. he pulled out a one grivin bill at one point, stared at it for like a minute very intently, then put it on the ground. "30 31 30 31 30 31 30 31" he kept saying that. he also turned to me and whispered 'i like your church because of it being true'. so he was crazy.

answers: the places i want to serve are the places everyone wants to serve in. they are just clean, fun, lots of people, younger people, better buildings, just better. jobs here, pretty much miners for the most part. thats what the majority do, at least.

so yeah, it was a good week. and next week should be awesome! we get to watch general conference! so pumped. well, i still know the church is true and that this is God's work. there are miracles that happen every day. i just don't always notice them, i assume.

have a great week. sorry about the april fools joke, if it was a bit harsh. love you all!

love derek